Sunday, October 23, 2011

Retreat Reflections

One of the advantages of being away from home for any length of time is that it often makes you grateful for what you have.  For instance, although your queen sized-bed may not be the most comfortable one in the world, you might find that you rest better in it than say a double sized vinyl covered piece of foam on a piece of plywood when you only brought twin sheets and a sleeping bag - not that I would speak from experience or anything.

The retreat was a great getaway, although I missed several of my friends who are usually able to be there.  My friend, Betsy, and I had fun chatting, scrapbooking and making friends with the group of ladies seated next to us.  I completed 25 pages which is a little low for me, but there were no "drop-in" pages which tend to run the numbers up.  I would definitely call it a successful weekend.  Michael is now ALMOST a junior in his book (he's a senior in real-life), and I made a little more progress in my Serbia album as well.

I also did a lot of thinking, and I realized a few things about myself.  (Seriously, those of you who know me, don't laugh.)
  1. I feel responsible for EVERYTHING.
  2. I am an pleaser.  (Is that the right word?)  I take responsibility for everyone else's well-being - emotionally and physically - often to the detriment of my own.
  3. Sometimes I just want someone to realize that I have struggles too.
I know that last one might seem a little odd to anyone reading this blog because I have been pretty open here with thoughts and feelings, but in my real life, as opposed to the faceless blogging world, I struggle with standing up for my needs, wants and desires.  I would like to say it is because I have laid down my own desires for those of Christ, but that would not only be a bit nauseating, it would be untrue.  I think it stems more from what I learned about myself this weekend.  Unfortunately, unlike Jesus, I am not omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent, and trying to please everyone while not asking for anything in return is exhausting.  Sometimes I slip.

So, off I go into a new week with my new found knowledge of yet another area that God and I need to work through.  It seems as though life is coming at me from all sides right now, which either means I am doing something wrong, or more probably doing something right.  I am just going to keep hanging on to the knowledge that I am not who I was pre-Serbia nor who I was even pre-weekend.  God is doing a little bit each day, and someday this will all be a distant memory.  Until then may I recommend another song for your listening enjoyment.  I believe I heard God's voice through it this weekend, maybe He has something to say to you as well. :)

I Am New by Jason Gray
Here is a little snippet:

Forgiven, Beloved,
Hidden in Christ,
Made in the Image of the Giver of Life
Righteous and Holy
Reborn and Remade
Accepted and Worthy,
this is our new name...

Saturday, October 22, 2011


I love order and design.  I think that is why I so quickly fell in love with scrapbooking.  Although I went into it kicking and screaming, there is something about layouts and embellishments that speaks to me.  I wish I could do it more.   It seems like the creative process feeds upon itself, and lately I have only been able to really scrapbook a couple of times a year. When that happens, it takes a little bit to get back into the flow.

This weekend, I am at a camp with a bunch of other women who share my passion for scrapbooking.  I haven’t been terribly creative to this point, but it will come.  At least I hope so.

As I sit here looking around a room full of women, brought together with the goal of recording the stories of their family through scrapbooking, I am a little bit overwhelmed.  I think back over the past year and all that my family has faced, and I wonder what stories are in this room.  Have others faced the same struggles?  Have others been able to take a great vacation to spend time making memories with their family?

I have to admit that I am also a bit overwhelmed by the wealth in the room as well.  I know that most would not consider themselves wealthy, but the amount of money that has been spent on die cut machines alone could feed a host of children in a third world country.  And then, there is the paper and the brads and albums and the scissors and the punches….  We are definitely blessed.

I don’t think I have ever really thought about either of these things before.  These weekends have always been a time for stepping back from the chaos that is my life, and the last year, I came into it “hot.”  The weeks preceding the retreat were crazy busy to the point that I almost didn’t come. Once I was here, I was focused on productivity.  This year is different.  I feel prepared and ready to create.  I am just distracted.

Maybe God wants this retreat to be more than productive this year.  I am kind of excited to see what he has planned.  I do hope to be productive, but I am sensing that He is up to more.  I would love that.

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Mom's Heart

As I lay here tonight on a cushioned bench in a hospital room while my youngest son is attached to a ton of wires and wearing a gauze turban for a 24 hour EEG, I can't help but reflect a bit on being his mom. Being a mom in general really.

Life with Jaron has always been a bit of a challenge.  Shortly after our first ultrasound, we were told that there was a possibility that Jaron's life would be very short lived.  There were indicators that our baby might be a trisomy 13 baby.  Prior to that point, I had never even heard of that.  It was suggested that we undergo an amniocentesis so that we would know what we were facing. We assured her that whatever the outcome, we would be having our baby.  We agreed to the test as it would affect what medical staff would be ready at the birth.  It was that test that told us that Jaron would be a boy - and that he was NOT trisomy 13.

As much as I had hoped that was the end of our worries and that our beautiful baby boy would be fine, that hasn't exactly been the case. He has struggled with developmental motor skill delays which have affected every aspect of his growth.  He is smaller than many of the boys his age, and struggles with some speech issues, which added to the motor skill has caused him, and his mom, more than a few tears.

And now, with the onset of periodic seizures, it is just one more strike against this sweet, little boy who wants nothing more than to be a normal 5th grader and be included with other boys his age.

I feel responsible.  If I had been more careful during his pregnancy would things be different?  If he hadn't fallen and hit his head on that trip to Canada would he be okay?  If I had spent more time playing with him when he was a baby, would his motor skills be delayed?

I find myself at a very fine line. My faith tells me that Jaron is the unique individual that God designed him to be.  We are blessed to have such a sweet-hearted little one who makes us laugh on a regular basis.  One who causes us to slow down because he truly only knows one speed - Jaron speed - and that he is growing at precisely the right rate for Jaron.

But...there are so many voices that tell me otherwise.  The voice of insecurity that tells me that I am not enough. The voice of condemnation that tells me if I had been a better mom, things would be different. Even the voices of others who seem to know so much more than I do about being a good parent.

I know that in this, as in every aspect of my life, I have a choice as to which voices I listen to.  But if I am honest, this is probably the area that I struggle the most with making the right choice. Because in the quiet moments - moments like tonight - those other voices are so loud, and the evidence seems to be in their favor.  Yet, God continues to speak in that still small voice reminding me that He is always in control, and He is bigger than even this.

I hope His voice wins the battle tonight because this mom's heart is struggling.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Did you know that joyless-ness is a sin?  I never really thought about it that way, but it's true.  We are commanded in the Bible to rejoice and to be joyful in our circumstances, so if we willingly choose to disobey the command...

I have not exactly been joy-full lately. That's mostly why I haven't been posting.  Kind of the..."If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" mentality.  I've been really, really busy with work, and processing a lot of things.  My schedule has been in overdrive too.

John Ortberg refers to my condition as "hurry sickness."  It's like multi-tasking on steroids, and in all honesty, I don't like it.  There has been no down time, and there is a never-ending list of things to do that taunts me all the time. It's not fun. It's not healthy either.

So, this weekend I ran away.  Actually, I went to visit a friend, and although our visit was cut short by responsibilities at church, the time we spent together was good for both of us.  There was a lot of laughing, great shopping, Chick-fil-a and Panda Express.  It's something we should do on a regular basis, but the three hour distance, along with both our busy schedules, prevent it as often as we would like.

In my last post, I mentioned Eric and Tyler's message on community.  One of the questions that came out of that message was "What is my 'here'?"  I have been thinking a lot about that.  If I were to sum it up I would say that my here includes a lot of upside down priorities and hurt feelings.  I have allowed circumstances and unresolved issues to steal my joy. I chose to let my "here" cause me to sin.

The good news is that there is still a "there."  For me, it is the spiritual discipline of slowing.  It involves stepping back from the "hurry" and resting in the knowledge that who I am in Christ is enough.  For me, it's more than resting, it's learning that who I am in Christ is enough.  I cannot do everything that I am being asked to do, and that is okay. Who I am is not dependent on what I do. (That's pretty hard for this perfectionist to get her head around. :)) 

While I have made massive strides in reclaiming my joy this weekend, I know that the road to my "there" is probably going to be a long one.  At least now, I have a map, and the plan is to rekindle my joy and take the scenic route - want to come along? :)