Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Back To A Corner

Some parents will judge me for this. I would say don't, but I have been in this parenting arena for long enough to know that there will be judgement. And I am ok with that, mostly. Something about exposure toughens the skin a bit, so I am have become more adept at letting it roll off my back.

The other day I was enjoying my time nursing Silas. When he was done, he happily got off my lap and toddled over to the bookshelf which sits katty corner in his room. As such, there is a corner between the shelf, the wall and his changing table/dresser. He was intent on reaching a particular toy on the shelf, and he succeeded in grabbing it with his chubby little hand. However, in so doing, he got himself stuck. Stuck between the shelf, wall and dresser. There was only one way out, he had to back up, as in, walk backwards. Oh, and his old fashioned telephone on wheels was blocking his path, so he would not only have to walk backwards, he would have to maneuver around the telephone. Did I mention he only learned to walk forwards a month ago? So I am sitting here watching all of this play out. I could see in his eyes the moment he decided he wanted out of the corner...and then I recognized the look on his face when he realized it wasn't going to be an easy escape. And then I watched as he paused and contemplated what to do. And as he contemplated, so did I. You see, I was within arms reach. I easily could have plucked him up and out of that corner and on his merry little way. But instead, I sat there mesmerized by the process, contemplating my own actions. Instead of plucking him out, I decided to see what he would do. There was minimal risk of injury, however, all babies fall and with falls there is always some risk. But no huge hazard. So I let him figure it out. First he hung onto the shelf and pushed his foot backwards. Upon feeling the telephone, he knew it wasn't going to be easy. So then he gripped tighter and pushed harder backwards with his one foot, knocking the telephone toy almost out of his way. From there he grabbed whatever else was in his reach and slowly inched his way out of the corner. Once free, he triumphantly glanced at me, scrunched up his nose in a "I did it" sort of way and happily toddled on his way.

As I sat there, I couldn't help but notice the correlation between my own "corners" and my own Parent. It seems so often we get angry at God for not getting us out, or moving, or healing, or stopping, or whatever. I let Silas be independent. And in so doing, I risked him falling. But he learned a skill he will need for the rest of his life. And I was right there. If he had faltered, I would have reached out to catch him before he hit the ground. He thought he was alone. But I was right there. I just didn't rescue him. Not in the way he initially wanted to be rescued. Because I knew that he needed to learn, and I believed in him enough that I gave him the gift of freedom...to learn. How many times have I cried out to God to rescue me? Sometimes He has...as in, He plucks me out and sets me on higher ground. But so many more times, I didn't sense him in the immediate sense. He did not pluck me out. I cried out wondering why He had left me. Why I had to face this alone? And all the while He was right there. I had backed myself into the proverbial corner, and He was right there to catch me if I fell, but He knew I needed to learn how to back up more than I needed immediate rescue.

Christianity is not for the weak. It is not for the people who need a crutch. At least not the Christ following I witness and experience. Trust is difficult...one of the most difficult emotions and actions required of a human. Doubt is easy. It comes naturally. We doubt God, we doubt ourselves, we doubt other people...its what humans do. But trust...trust is a thought, its a feeling, its an action. When my back is to  a corner doubt rushes in on a dime...like a flood it comes through every crack in my armor. But trust is what fortifies the structure. The two war against one another like opposite and opposing forces.  Doubt always leads to isolation. Isolation from others (ruins relationships) and from God. We might feel safe, but we are all alone. Trust invites risk...the risk of pain...but when we choose to trust we open up to relationship. To find reward, we must always risk.

What I have learned is that in the process of rescuing us, God is always there. It may not look as we imagined it would, but He is there. Even if we fall...His is the hand that catches us...the only thing between us and the bottom. You may have fallen a long, long way...but He did not let you go. He knows the value of the lesson you and I need to learn. He is confident in our abilities (the people He has made us to be) to figure this out. He isn't snatching us out, because while that might make Him look good, He is more interested in refining us, teaching us, growing us, which invites us into an opportunity to experience deeper relationship with Him. Nothing about this life is easy, but no one ever said it would be. Love demands trust, trust invites deeper relationship. Immediate rescue is not the only way to build trust.  Sometimes instead of plucking us out, Love is there to catch you.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Emotional Runner

I just don't like to run. I got myself quite addicted to it before getting pregnant with Silas. I thought it wasn't possible...but I did it. Then I became pregnant and fell out of the habit...had a good three weeks of loving it again this fall. And now its back to grueling. But I did it tonight...and on my first lap it started to rain. By lap three I could really feel the cool rain hitting my forehead and the crown of my head. I began to think how uncomfortable it was and realized very quickly how adept I have become at pushing bad feelings aside, both physically and emotionally. I think part of it is being a parent. My kids feel EVERYTHING. Especially, the little ones...a hang nail, a split hair, a sliver, a bleeding owie, a bruise, even a mosquito bite. But these overwhelming sensations wear off with time and we learn to push the pain to the side so that its not so all consuming. This is good because if an adult were whining to me about their hang nail like my little kids do, I am quite sure I would have to restrain myself from slapping them silly. Anyway...in a matter of seconds I literally could not feel the cold rain anymore. And I was amazed. And then I realized how I have become so good at this. When I was pregnant, with each child, I became more and more able to push through situations and feelings that I had prior to, thought impossible. With Silas, I would literally convince myself that I simply didn't have the time or energy to feel...anything. It worked enough to get me through each day (and I threw up more spontaneously with him than any other one), but it wasn't all good. In June of last year (I was 7 months pregnant), I was sitting on the couch feeling nothing but my daily nausea, when all of a sudden I was cast into the worse pain I have ever felt. It was immediate. I literally crawled into my room (so as not to scare the boys), and texted my good friend (and neighbor) to come over...NOW.  I thought I was dying...nothing relieved the pain, it was my entire abdomen, and while it hurt to the degree of contractions, it didn't feel like a contraction and there was no break... it was just constant pain. My doctor told me to wait a half hour and to come in if it was still that bad. I waited 5 minutes and went in. I knew it was bad. I was checked in and monitored. I was contracting, but that was a secondary issue...my body was in trauma and it was inducing labor. After two hours of nothing except writhing in pain on the bed, it stopped as quickly as it had started. At that time, the nurse said she needed a urine sample. I told her I didn't want to move for fear it would start again. She said I had to. So I went into the bathroom, did my business and in the process, delivered a stone. Yep, you read that correctly. I passed a kidney stone on my own, unmedicated, in the span (start to finish) of 3-4 hours start to finish. Most intense pain of my entire life...worse than natural labor.
I think looking back, the reason it happened so intensely, is because I missed all the warning signs. I had never had one before or any kidney issue, in fact. But beyond that, I was so focused on survival, and not feeling (either physically or emotionally), that I was just happy to get through each day. So I missed it. And now I see how good I have become at not feeling. But I also realize that this is not healthy. It is like anything else, we can take it too far. And I have. Pain is an indicator of a greater problem. We don't want to miss those valuable warning signs. But if we have ourselves numb to the pain (physically or emotionally), we will miss the warning signs and be waist deep in trauma before we even realize it.
For as much as I hate physically running, I am an emotional runner. Its what I do. Its what I have always done. When I feel scared or vulnerable or hurt, I run. I hide. I cloak myself in anger and isolation and build walls of safety in an instant. And I hide behind those walls. Taking those walls down is so very difficult. And the more times I try to take those walls down brick by brick, the higher they go if a wound is reopened. And before I know it, I look around at my walls and realize that I am safe...nothing is getting through those walls...but I am all alone. Safe...but alone.
We were made for community. For relationships. But those of us that have been hurt in relationships (ok, so that is anyone and everyone reading these words), sometimes we start sliding down the slope of cynicism. Bitterness creeps in and robs us of every bit of beauty we once saw so easily in this world, in others, in relationships. So how do we stop it? How do we reengage? Is it worth the risk? I read today that "Happiness is an act of courage." Stop and think about that for a moment.
Joy requires hope.
Hope requires faith.
Faith requires belief.
Belief requires knowledge
Knowledge requires wisdom
Happiness isn't something that just happens to us. It is something we have to be purposeful about. Joy is all around us, but we have to actively tune into it and often, actively choose it. Which is no small feat in this crazy world. It takes an act of courage to begin again. To try again. To feel again. To love again. Courage to hope.
So lets lift our faces up to the rain. Stop running. Choose a path, and follow it, embracing the decision to rebuild rather than destroy and start anew. These are lovely words. But so very difficult in practice. Only the courageous will survive. After all, "Joy is an act of courage."

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Social Media ~ With Power Comes Responsibility

With power comes responsibility. I tell this to my kids all of the time. I teach it to my students. I try to own it in my life. There is so much power in social media. Power to hurt...power to build up. Power to convince and persuade. Power to lead astray. Power to encourage...power to tear down. Power to inform. So. Much. Power. From a psychological standpoint...I can tell you that the reason home based businesses want you to turn to facebook is because if you put information in front of people daily, whether they are for it or against it, indifferent or already persuaded...if they see it every day in front of them...their curiosity will be perked. Its human nature. Same goes for religious beliefs. Diets. Parenting theories. The list could go on endlessly. And you represent those things you stand for...you give them a name. Facebook is like a limitless newsfeed...our minds are constantly hit with conflicting arguments from every angle. Vaccinate or your kids will die. Don't vaccinate...and they will die. Gluten free will kill you. Gluten free will save you. Love others no matter what they have done. But those same people seem to hate those they term as bigot  Christ followers. I got tired of the noise. The constant, unending noise. It wasn't just the conflicting information constantly bombarding my senses (or the subtle psychological manipulation)...it was the comments too. The hate. The need to be right. One of the people in my newsfeed posted something about parenting and how she hates parents who... and guess what...I do that thing she mentioned. So she hates me? And the passive aggressive nature of posts. I know passive aggressive. Its my go-to when I am upset. So I can pick it out immediately because I can be a pro at executing it (just ask my husband). For as much as I am working on that...it angers me immediately when I experience the other end of it. I felt like I was losing a grasp on Truth. Listening to constantly conflicting voices of man back and forth. Back and forth. Back and forth.

And the addiction. I hate addiction. I am waging war at anything that controls me (or those I love). And as much as I didn't want to admit it...I was addicted to facebook. I am not sure it was an addiction so much to other peoples lives as it was an addiction to the information. I have learned a lot from what I have read from articles posted. I think I was afraid I would miss something big if I wasn't on there. And I may. But the question here is this: is all of this "knowledge" and "information" hurting or helping us? Back in the day....people did what worked for them. They didn't live under the constant anxiety of doing it wrong or the constant threat of doom (come on...how many blogs do you follow of parents whose kids became chronically ill bc of some obscure disease?). The truth is that we have become slaves to information rather than information serving us. Why is anxiety so high right now among 30 somethings? BLOGS. Facebook posts of so and so's child getting abducted, sick,  or even a random tree limb falling and causing a traumatic brain injury in a child. The thing is, these people have a voice...a platform. I think when we read these people's story we see that they are living in our worst nightmare...and a part of us wants to follow along to know how the story ends. And when it ends tragically, we weep, we question...and we shoulder the anxiety in one way or another to our list of concerns about what if something happens. But along the way we learn that there can be grace unimagined...that people can survive the unimaginable. So we keep coming back for more? Thirty years ago these same things happened. We just never heard of it. Because we didn't have internet. I am not advocating that we shouldn't read these people's stories or support them. I know when Everett had his health issue when he was a baby, your support was invaluable to me. I don't know what the cure is. I just know that I needed to stop the noise.

But I am not an extremist. I took a solid week off. Now I am on facebook here and there. Still unsure of where to land exactly. Long distant family members love to see pictures of the kids...I do enjoy and learn from many things I read on there...I like to stay in "contact" with people. But the noise. How can we speak so much of love, and yet get so angry at someone who dares disagree with us? Where is the love? Hurt begets hurt. When people respond in unkind ways, I can usually see it for what it is. They are hurting or have been hurt.

The irony: I am writing this BLOG and posting it to FACEBOOK. Because there is power in social media. Power to form community and build relationships...find comraderie and encouragement. Find solutions to every day problems. I think you can probably sense my inability to decide where to land on this issue. For as much as I wish we could all go back to the way it used to be...I see the benefits of what we have now with this free exchange of ideas. Which brings me full circle. Power. With responsibility comes power. How are we using that power today?

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Thaw

I went running tonight for the first time in a long time. This winter was nothing but cold, frigid actually. Michigan hit a record with 108 inches of snow and consistent single digit temperatures. So running has been out of the question. But today we hit 35 degrees, and it just seemed to be the right time for many reasons. So I strapped my shoes on, threw Noah's U of M beanie on my head, turned on my Pandora station, and set out.

I remember when I first started to run almost a year and a half ago now. I could barely make it twice around the subdivision. I would eagerly give up after I hit that second loop because I was tired and ready to be done. But now I hit that second loop and have no problem pushing right through the breathlessness. I really don't think I am in any better shape. I have had a pregnancy and two months of no exercise. The difference is that my view of pain has changed. When I was pregnant with Si, I wanted so badly to go out and move. To run, to feel the wind, to have that outlet. But I couldn't. I could barely make it through a day. I think two years ago when I started using exercise as an outlet, I knew in my spirit that I was about to enter a defining time of my life. I didn't know then all that would come down, but I sensed it. Having lived the past two years, I have learned to lean into the pain, knowing it will make me stronger. I no longer run from it. I have learned to lean in.

Tonight as I ran, the snow was melting all around me. Water was running down the street in cascading rivers reaching for the drainpipes. It was as though I could visibly see the snow hills shrinking. I couldn't help but feel it in my soul too. Just as I felt it two years ago, but in a different way. Tonight I felt the thaw. So much has happened and I have gone to such lengths to protect my heart that it has been safe, but frozen. Which means all but dead...dormant. Tonight as the streams of melting snow ran down the road under my feet, it was as though it was running out of me too. That maybe, just maybe this is the beginning of something new. That spring could be on the horizon. That new life is about to spring up, and the parts of me that have laid dormant will awaken in the warmth of the spring.

I didn't want to thaw. I resisted it. I knew I was choosing to remain safe and to keep my illusion of control. And I didn't care. I loosened my grip on hope and faith and love. I all but let it go. But Love held me. And the warmth of Spring is gently beckoning me. And my heart, while still buried under a mountain of snow, can feel the sun seeping through, and instead of refreezing in an attempt to be safe, I think I am going to give into the thaw. I had convinced myself that to thaw was weak...to trust, to believe, to hope, to dream...it all felt weak. But I am learning that to open up...to take risks...to even begin to hope is the strongest action I can take...because it takes a thousand times more courage than does staying holed up in my protected safe zone. I hope to go forth smarter, wiser...but with the same heart that God created me with. There may be cracks and scars...but its still mine. I am still me. I don't want to be held back by the bondage of shame and fear and hurt that has held me captive. I want to go forth in freedom. And to do that...I must give in to the slow thaw. I must begin to dream again...to hope...to love. And that starts by simply opening up my hands, and lifting my face to the Son...basking in His warmth, knowing that in it and through it all, He held me. And He holds it all.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Shattering

I keep hearing the shattering...the glass hitting the ground and shattering into a thousand fragmented pieces. Pieces that could maybe be put back together under the tedious care of one completely devoted to restoring wholeness. But even then, there would be cracks. I once heard that a pipe is strongest at the spot that once was broken. When welded, it becomes stronger at that spot than all others. Perhaps the cracks are strong like that. But the shattered piece will never be the same.

Sometimes revisiting the past feels like this. With every memory I can hear the shatter, as though the memory goes into slow motion as it replays in my mind. And then as the full force of the reality hits me, I hear the shatter. For some its a diagnosis. For others, the infamous call that they won't ever forget. Still others, its a traumatic experience. But there is always that moment. That moment when your standing on the precipice...that tiny spot that lies between your greatest desire and your greatest dread. For a moment you waver on hope...knowing you could be 2 seconds away from your hearts desire, or being forced to let go. Its a tricky spot, let me tell you...to stand on that small spot that balances these two poles.

But whats worse is that when you are forced to move...when you hear that shatter...and you know your forced to let it go...and you have to do so alone. When you have to walk through something dark and seemingly hopeless. When the rest of the world sees your painted smile and expects the same old things out of you that they always do...and you don't have it to give, but no one knows that...because they can't know why. When the reality hits that seclusion and isolation feels safer than community. When you reach out, and no one takes your hand, or worse yet...pushes you further under.

I am not in that spot any longer. I have moved. But I was. And digging out from the shatter...the fragmented hopes and dreams, is a process, long and elaborate. Sometimes it feels like three steps forward and two backwards. Sometimes being forced to remember the moments of impact set off a chain reaction and all I can hear is the shatter. And I don't want to. I don't want to be reminded. I still haven't decided where to land and pitch my stake on many issues coming forth. I know I am stronger. I know that I have learned a lot. But the lines between self preservation and self sacrifice so easily get blurred.

I am not even sure what point I have to make here. Dreams and hopes and ideals have all been shattered. I am now in the process of rebuilding. For what? I am not certain because nothing in this life holds the promise that it won't be shattered once more. Nothing is completely about us, or for us. I believe it all serves a greater Purpose. But faced with a choice as to if I would rather sit in the rubble or start building, I choose to build. To gather supplies, lay the mortar, and place the bricks. The shatter may come again. In a different form. But I will always build. It is who I am.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Question Everybody Seems To Be Asking

I was sitting in church Sunday morning when the pastor asked us to stand up and talk to the people around us. So I turned around and shook hands with the nice man and woman behind me. As we sat down, I could sense the woman craning her body so that she could see the baby in the baby carrier next to my seat. When she caught sight of the blue blanket, I heard her whisper to her husband, " Four boys...I wonder how they ever do that!" This is nothing new for me. People stop in Meijer just to count the boys I have. A woman in Panera once asked me, "Where is the girl?" When I said I didn't have one, but had some awesome boys...she told me to keep trying. As though boys just aren't good enough. Anyway...back to this morning...the woman whispers to her husband as I sit there with my four boys, and then the pastor immediately goes into his announcements, one of which was the daddy/daughter dance coming up. And then he went on to give a fantastic message on CONTENTMENT.

When we told everyone that Everett was a boy, a lot of people said things that were hurtful...but I know they didn't mean it that way. Things like, "Did you do it right this time?" As though, a boy would just be wrong. Some people immediately followed my announcement with, "I am sorry! Maybe it will be a girl next time!" As though, this child didn't count....lets go right on to the next one. There was nothing to be sorry about...I had a healthy gorgeous boy growing in my womb. It was difficult for me. On many levels. Which is largely why we did the gender thing with Silas differently. I didn't want to have to tell people. And I knew that once the baby was here, people would be more gentle with their remarks...because when there is a picture of a real, live, healthy gorgeous newborn baby...you just can't say, "Sorry."

When I was pregnant with Landon I really didn't think I cared if the baby was a boy or girl. I just wanted a healthy baby. But when I found out that he was a boy, I surprised myself by crying. I remember calling my mom from Ohio (where we lived) and telling her I just realized I had no idea what to do with a boy. I had 5 sisters and only one older brother. But very quickly I warmed up to the idea of a boy. And once he was here, I was sold. But Noah was my girl...I just knew it. The pregnancy was different, I had the girl dreams, my intuition was so strong. On the ultrasound day I went into that room just waiting for confirmation of what I already knew. And when she said boy...I was devastated. Please hold your judgement. I had bonded with this baby...as my daughter. Foolishly so, but I had hopes and dreams and felt in my heart that my daughter existed in my womb. And when she didn't...it was as though the daughter I had bonded with disappeared...I was grieving that which never existed. But God spoke a purpose to me for Noah almost audibly. He told me of the joy that Noah would bring to our family. And when the doctor handed me our Noah...she truly handed me Joy...our joy boy. Everett was my faith baby. I prayed and prayed and prayed for a daughter. I prayed from the top of her curly blond hair down to the tips of her painted toes. And God gave us the ray of sunshine that is Everett. The boy who can shine light anywhere he goes. And Silas... as we conceived him, I laid down my desire for a daughter on the alter. Saying simply, my heart is open for whatever is given.

Awhile back I was at Panera (I eat a lot of bagels) with one of my closest girl friends. She had just born her daughter and her two year old son was walking ahead of her. I was traipsing behind her with my (then) three boys in tow. A woman stopped her and looked at her beautiful daughter, and went on and on about how my friend had the perfect family...a boy and a girl. And how great it would be as they grew. And I stood there looking at the ground. I had three kids...and no girl. That woman was simply being kind to my friend. But that is how the world views kids today...like it is some sort of mail order. "I will take two kids...one boy, one girl, no special needs please." But that is not how God created this process. Children are a gift. Something we don't get to choose, or manipulate. People who struggle with infertility...or who live and serve children with special needs on a moment by moment basis...do you think they feel like they fit into the cultural ideal? Do they feel left out and looked over and "out of the club?" Absolutely. With each of these situations you don't grieve what was lost...you grieve what never was, what never will be.

When I had two boys...a ton of my friends had two of the same gender...but on the third, almost all of them had a change in gender. By the fourth child, I only knew four other people with three of the same...and two of them had a gender change on the fourth. I very much felt out of the realm of normalcy, out of the club. And when people make comments about how crazy my life must be or how they would never want my life...it is hurtful, there is no other way of stating it. But wondering why others could have what I so desperately desired was a difficult question. Because if I envied them, it cost me joy over the gifts I had graciously been given. It has to be like I feel when I give my kids a great gift, only to hear them compare and complain about why they couldn't have what their friend got. Ingratitude. Spoiled rotten. Entitlement. And then the guilt comes in.

I didn't want a daughter to dress her up or to paint her nails. It wasn't about the pink. It was about a lifelong desire to share something that I share with my mom and my grandma. It was about so much...such a deep longing that I can't and won't  begin to really share the depth of it here on a public blog. It was about redeeming past hurts. It was about the bond. For as many people that said hurtful things, many said comforting things like the fact that I will have 4 great daughter in laws someday. And I have held out for that. But just last week my colleague was telling me about his four sons and how his wife just can't have as close of a relationship with their families as the moms of the daughters have. And it broke my heart.

This is not about me. I am not blogging about this to get nice comments or any sort of condolences. I don't need condolences. I have had people say to me, "I could never do what you do...I don't know what I would do if I had your life...your life must be insane and chaotic!" All of these are very hurtful as though something is inherently wrong with the life I have been given. Let me say this loudly for all to hear: I DO NOT NEED PITY FOR HAVING FOUR HEALTHY BOYS!" Silas is no less loved or wanted than was Landon. He didn't choose to be fourth, and I don't have to choose to love him...I just do, in the exact same ferocious, lion hearted way I love my first born son.

I am writing this blog because people ask me what its like with four boys. If I struggle. And to be honest, yes. I have (or am trying) to release my dream. I have wanted a daughter my entire life...as far back as I can remember. I have had to grieve the loss of a dream that never will be. She doesn't exist. And it comes up every time I leave the house. Last night at Meijer I told a woman I had 4 boys and she asked if I was done having kids, insinuating that I would try 100 times until I got a girl. Since when is my child bearing plans any business of complete strangers?

I am writing this blog to simply say...think. Think before you talk. Before you say something well meaning but hurtful to anyone outside of the "average" and apparently "normal and perfect" American family. Before you say something moronic to the mom of a grown gay child. To the couple who has no kids (by choice or infertility). To the single 50 year old. To the parents of a special needs child. To the parents of a child who has died. And yes, even to the parents who have all of the same gendered children. You don't know the battles people fight on a daily basis, sometimes a moment by moment basis.  Learn to be sensitive...and remember that sometimes the best counselors, are those that listen and keep their mouths closed.

Life in and of itself is a gift. In any form. Even special needs. Even 4 boys. Especially 4 boys. I don't need pity or applause. My children are a gift. If I lived 200 years ago I would be called blessed among women. But it is different in our "perfect American tradition" where 1.8 kids, one of each gender is the norm and the desire.

I won't buy prom dresses or wedding dresses. I won't see her play with my barbies or wear my Laura Ingalls dresses. I won't pass her my old ponies or watch her face light up when she talks about the boy, and I won't braid her hair. I won't take pictures with her hand next to mine and my moms and Grams (I have a picture like this on my entertainment center, sans any 4th generation female hand). I won't pass down my Grandma's name. And any sadness I have over that sits right next to the incredible gratitude I have for the awesome boys I have been given. It is an enigma. Something you can only understand if you have lived it. Much like so many other things in life. So again, I say...think before you speak. Encourage with your words...don't tear down. Don't judge. And above all...don't pity. For there is absolutely nothing to be sorry for, and so very much to rejoice over.

This topic is so multi-faceted. And so difficult for someone who would struggle to conceive even one child. Or two. I am fully aware that in even discussing this, I could be causing someone pain. That is not my desire. Please know my heart and the gratitude that lives there for what I have been given. This is something I rarely discuss with anyone and while I have shared experiences in this blog...I have not shared a ton of my personal feelings on many things. If you are someone who feels alone in the way that your family does not fit into the "ideal" and you would like to talk more, feel free to message me. To have someone validate what you feel and how that yearning can sit so very closely to your gratitude. Because I know this well. Very, very well.

So much of life we cannot control. It seems most people get what they desire...the husband, the job, the kids. I can only imagine what it must be like when the cancer diagnosis hits, or infertility dominates, or yet another miscarriage happens, or a parent dies unexpectedly, or a child goes through cancer or dies. These are all things we cannot control...and things that don't feel fair...all things that at some point if we are honest, cause us to question (if only for a moment) God's goodness. Satan loves that. He would love to convince us God is not the Giver of Good Gifts. That God is not good, not in control, not in it or over it. But if we give into those questions, we lose our peace. Just like if we envy, we lose our joy. The gifts God has given me are perfect...for me. And those he has given you...although different than mine...perfect for you. Rejoice today in whatever those gifts are...even if they came at a price. The joy is in the journey...not the destination. So next time I am questioned as to "How I do it with 4 boys," I think I will look the person square in the eye and tell them, "I do it with joy."