Friday, February 19, 2010

glass houses

"Ok then stop complaining about the problems in your life on your blog as though something strange or undeserved has happened to you. Since your deserving punishment was eternal damnation and what recieved is far less than that, it serves that every breath you suck into that sinful body ought to exhale nothing but thankfulness and grattitude for your very existance. Because you know that God alone bears you up and it is by grace alone that you complain and comment so devoid of compassion."

I received this comment today. I have received similar comments in the past from this person. And I have some things to say. I say them with conviction.

I don't know where to start. And the person who wrote it to me, I know you are reading this blog. I have some things to say to you.

1. I am in pain. Have you ever met anyone in pain? Or is it so easy for you to overlook pain because of God's redemptive work in your life? If He has redeemed you so perfectly, then why the venom? More specifically, why the venom toward me?

2. There is a book in the Bible. Job. A man who lost everything in his life and still praised God. And did you know that I struggle to do that every day? Did you know that much of my struggle is NOT giving in to bitterness but following the dictates of the Bible and giving thanks in all seasons? You know what? I could sit here and tell you how wonderful things are and how thankful I have for everything in my life, even the hard stuff. I am. I am. I am. A thousand times I am.

But I am also broken.

3. Obviously, you are able to overcome all of the pain in your life and live in a state of perfection and gratitude for all things in your life. I, however, am not an automoton. I am WORKING TOWARD THAT PLACE. And I am sharing that journey. And you know what? It's people like you that make me think I should just keep my mouth shut and learn these things in silence.

4. Oh, but guess what! There's more! It is people like you that make me want to share it more. Becuase I KNOW there are hurting people reading my words, realizing that they are not alone in their questions and their hurt. And that questions and hurt lead to stronger faith, if you let them. Ever heard of C.S. Lewis? Josh McDowell? The apostle Paul? David? David, who called out to God for ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY CHAPTERS in the Psalms?

5. I wonder what you would say to my friend who held her 3 month old son in her arms as he died. The friend who had to make the choice with her husband on whether or not to disconnect him from life support. The choice to do the one thing that hurt THEM the most, in order to let him go. To give him freedom. They will hurt for a lifetime, but the price of loving someone so much is sometimes doing what's best for them even when it hurts you like hell.

Oh, another one. My friend who is currently watching her husband give in to the ravages of Parkinsons. She watches him fall again and again in the driveway and try to hold a fork stably enough to pick up his peas. Oh, the adult depends. Those are fun too.

And yet, these women praise God everyday. And yet, they HURT. They have raw and aching wounds. And you would tell them, "Shut up about your wounds. God doesn't care about your wounds. God saved you. God gave you eternal life. So shut up and take it."

I think about what my friend did for her son, the gift she gave him in letting him go, and I think of the parallel in what God did for His son, for me...letting His son go, even though it was the most horrendous thing in his parent's heart.

And because God did that for me, I know a couple of things about His nature. He cares!

Psalm 30:5
Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

Psalm 34:18
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalm 37:39
The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD; he is their stronghold in time of trouble

Psalm 46:1-2
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.

Isaiah 54:10
"Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the LORD, who has compassion on you.

************

Tell me this: How could the Lord have compassion on me, as Isaiah 54:10 says, if I do not admit to Him that I am hurting? How can He lift me up if I am constantly jumping around like a holy roller, handling snakes and praising the Lord?

Do you ever think that maybe God reaches us MOST in our brokenness?

I wonder how many people you've hurt, saying things like this. Using careless words and shoddily concocted scriptures to make a point that suits your purposes, however misguided they are.

5. By the way, I do in fact realize I am not the only person who has ever experienced hurt or disappointment. These emotions are unique to the human condition. Yes. They are. I get it. However, my blue eyes are the only venue with which I experience the world, and my weak hands are the only way my soul gets to touch the world.

I am processing all of this as a sentient, breathing, living, human being. I know there are many more out there just like me. But don't pretend I am selfish for feeling emotions of anger.

This is my journey, and I will not apologize for it. You say that when others sympathize with me or tell me they are "sorry" about what has happened, they are "sugarcoating" things for me and not forcing me to accept the grace God has given me to breathe another day. Guess what. God is amazing. God is all-powerful. God is graceful. God has given me eternal life. And God has also given me the ability to feel pain, to long for Him, to question Him. He wants me to be honest with Him about my hurt.

I AM HURT.

Do you not get that? Do you not get that being knocked down, over and over and over and over and OVER again can make you feel like NEVER GETTING UP? Like letting the sunset wash you away into a sea of heartbreak? Questioning God's plans for your life? Wondering where you went wrong? Wondering what His plans are? Wondering if you could possibly gear up for more hurt?

Do you not get that?

So STOP. Stop your condescending pretentiousness. Stop the hubris that tells you to tell me how to grieve. I don't believe in denial. I don't believe in pushing it all down until it bubbles to the surface and I break down, which has happened, currently.

In closing, I'd like to admonish you to think a little more about what you are writing to me or others before you write it. Do not assume that because you know the ins and outs and legalities of the Bible more than I do that you are any better than I.

And NEVER tell me not to be honest.

One more thing. The more you talk about God's grace, and in the next breath, tell others how horrible they are being for feeling human emotions, you're not doing much to draw others to Him.

It's called alienation.

If you do not like what I have to say, don't read it. Just stop reading.

God has placed me in this season for his purpose, and I am excited as I read the scriptures and learn more about His character, His all-encompassing love for me, His power.

I am always in His hands, no matter what. He made me with emotion, with the ability to feel hurt and to feel pain and to cry until I cannot cry any more.

And I praise Him for it, for making me with free will and the ability to make the decision to keep coming back,

back,

back to Him.

Your words do not dissuade me.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

weak

so....deep breath.

I'm coming clean. The past two weeks have NOT been good. I have NOT been handling things well and ended up in the psychiatrist's office yesterday. I KNOW it's hormones, partly to blame, because I still have not had a period after the miscarriage.

I also know I have been taking horrendous care of myself. My body has been through ALOT, and I have exacerbated the problem by not getting to the gym as much as I should be, eating too much sugar, not getting enough sleep. I eat sugary foods and not much else so that I can stay thinner but still eat the yummy stuff - NOT good.

My schedule with Lucy is kind of insane. She told me today, "Mama, I hate all the special things I have to do." and I said, "Honey, I hate it too."

I cried my eyes out to the shrink and she looked at me and said, "Did you ever consider that maybe trying to hard to be 'strong', to keep people's perceptions of you afloat, causes most of your stress?" I told her that sometimes I have considered that, but not in such black and white terms.

She told me it was doctor's orders that I get away from the children and do something solely for me, 2 times a week for 2 hours. I am going to do this.

She also prescribed me some Xanax extended release, which I have never wanted to take in the past, but this anxiety is KILLING me. You know that rush of adrenaline you get when you are driving and think you might hit another car? I mean, the heart-pounding in your ears, right before impact? Or the feeling you get when you think you've lost your kid at the mall?

That is the rush I feel EVERY HOUR OF THE DAY. Not only is it exhausting, I am TIRED. And I cannot function like this.

I posted something on Facebook yesterday about anxiety and Xanax, and it was CRAZY the number of people who commented with similar problems.

Is it our way of living that produces this problem? I don't know. Not sure.

She also said, "You're so involved in the day to day life of your kids that you're losing yourself." I've always thought of that as Oprah hooey, but in the end, I can see her point. EVERYTHING I do revolves in some aspect around the children. I have forgotten what I like to do...what does Rachel like to do?

Here are some things:

1. writing
2. editing others' writing (when I go back to work I'd love to edit in some fashion)
3. knitting (Korin, I need some tips on where to start! Can only do scarves right now!)
4. exercising at the gym, with kids in the child care
5. reading
6. organizing/decorating my house
7. playing outside with the kids
8. photography (going to buy a killer camera)
9. massages
10. pedicures

I was just reading a friend's blog...she was talking about going to an ultrasound, fearing the worst. You know, I swear I have PTSD after all that's gone on last year. I mean, THREE times of going in for an ultrasound and seeing nothing. And one time of, "If we don't operate, you will die."

In a year? You have got to be kidding me.

On top of that, the daily caring for Lucy, and caring for Asher, and selling one house and moving into another, and a 6 hour long surgery for my daughter, followed by a 3 week hospital stay in Ohio.

Right before Lucy's birthday party last weekend I swear I heard our neighbor's music being too loud. I guess that was the catalyst for me becoming OBSESSED with the neighbors turning down their music. NO ONE ELSE CAN HEAR THE NEIGHBORS' MUSIC.

The only thing that made me feel better was hearing that, in high anxiety situations, a slight annoyance turns into a huge, insurmountable one that just keeps snowballing and snowballing into something bigger.

Nut farm, anyone?

I joined our community center today. it is BEAUTIFUL. Child care is $1.50 for 2 hours, and I can even go in and get a massage, read in the fireplace room, ANYTHING! So, basically, I can take them there whenever I want and have $3 babysitting FOR TWO KIDS!

An answer to prayer if I ever saw one, kids.

So, yes, I suppose I am strong.

But, I am also weak.

Secret's out.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

say

I haven't written on here much because I don't really have anything to say.

I have been tired and just letting my heart do its thing. The babies are growing and I am spending my days watching them grow, and reading books, and playing with them.

Just not alot to say, mainly because alot of what I want to say isn't positive, or it doesn't make any sense.

I am tired of hearing people say, "You are so strong."

As I told the therapist today, I don't want to be strong. Screw strong. I want to be normal. I want to be that normal woman with 2.5 healthy kids - the one who freaks out when her kid has a head cold.

I want to be that woman.

And yet, strangely, I don't.

Friday, February 12, 2010

feel

So many thoughts going through my head. I often wonder why God has me in this season. I wonder what I've missed that He's trying to teach me, what I can learn from all of this. Sometimes I just get tired and other times I feel hopeful. Really hopeful.

Things are happening in my heart and outside of my heart that are good, that are progress. Decisions are being made.

Each day is a step forward, a step in the right direction, even if it doesn't necessarily FEEL that way.

Heh - if I based my world on feelings, I may as well sleep on a Jell-O bed. (I guess I wouldn't have to go down to the kitchen to get a snack!)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

3 photos

A few weeks ago we helped my cousin move. I love to see what people have in their bathrooms, and to combine containers of the same thing that are almost empty (saves space! you can then recycle one container! i'm a freak! you don't have to tell me!). she stuck me in her bathroom:







I never thought I'd be one to complain about the snow, but I am complaining about the snow!






There are only so many days we can be stuck inside with macaroni and cheese and PBS kids and enem*as and catheters and the same games over and over and over and over and over again before I combust.






So, we are headed to Costco. Where else?






I suppose I should post some photos of our new kitchen countertops.






Yesterday I sold some stuff on Craigs List...it worked wonderfully, the lady didn't even try to haggle me down! If this weather doesn't warm up soon Scott is going to come home to a bare, bare house. I didn't want Lucy to see what I was selling (some old stuff she was going to want), so I told her to stay upstairs. "Why, Mama? Why are you meeting a lady downstairs without me?"






Can't you just see her in therapy, 20 years from now, telling the therapist "Mom always had secret meetings with people who would come and go, dropping off stuff...I think it was drugs."






NIIIIICE. No, honey, it was just me entertaining myself with Craigslist because if I ever took you out to play your LIMBS WOULD FREEZE OFF!






Asher keeps wanting these Mickey Mouse shoes at Wal-Mart. We drive the shopping cart by and he looks at them, wistfully. "They make me sad, Mama." he says.






I smoosh his cheeks. He is so sweet. I was getting valentines stickers with him and I asked him what kind Sissy might want: "Fincess!" (Princess). He points with his straight little sausage pointer finger and then nods his head so adamantly I think it might roll off his neck.






Is there anyone out there who might watch my kids for 2 hours tomorrow afternoon? I am specifically asking my friends who I actually, you know, KNOW. It would be from 2:45 - 4:30, and I could bring them to your house. I have to teach Good News Club, and last week I tried to do it with them there, Asher started screaming something unintelligible about Jesus while he laid spread-eagle on a craft table. It was fun times. My mom usually watches them but she is in North Dakota until the end of time, and my sister in law is in Hawai'i for a month (I know.)






And also, see, if you really don't want to do it, you can just pretend you didn't see this post.






EVERYONE WINS!






Someone is calling someone else a freak on the television show the kids are watching. Must go tell them that is mean. Why is it that nowt hat Lucy can turn the channels to the Disney channel, PBS kids is no longer cool? And so the innocence stealing begins...

The other night Scott got the kids ready for bed so I could go to Target (gosh, I shop alot.) There were no pajamas available for Asher. And just so you don't feel like reading this post was an abysmal waste of time:











Monday, February 8, 2010

kick in the pants

Just had a play date with my friend Dawn.

She always has insight - she helped me cook lasagna (funny, in my kitchen, because nothing is organized), and we talked about how our tragedies have made us who we are...she always talks about not taking away from your testimony, the testimony God has given you, by being bitter about it. And she truly is not bitter over having lost her son.

God, you have a sense of humor, for sure. You do. You always know when I need a swift, but timely, kick in the pants.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

this will probably change

Just bruised and battered this morning.

Sometimes I feel like things are going in slow motion and I should be able to catch up with the outside world but I can't...something is keeping me from doing it.

I want the sadness to stop. I want to be happy when I hear someone else is having a baby. I don't want to feel fear every time I think about trying again. I don't want to think about the anxiety that is sure to follow a positive pregnancy test.

And can I do 37 weeks of hell again?

I am broken, completely.

Two empty Hershey bars wrappers and an empty cookie package proves it.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

saying no

I have always had the type of personality wehre every time I tell someone "no" I feel horrible. I wonder how I could possbily move things around in my life so I could tell them "yes", and mean it.

Between caring for 2 children, one who requires extensive and ongoing special care, keeping a house running, getting exercise (yes, that has to be a priority for me), recovering from the year of recurrent womb deaths, trying to stay on top of preparation and presentations of what I'm responsible for each week at Good News Club, trying to figure out what's going on with decisions we're making regarding future children (not to mention all of the extra doctor's appointments included therein), things are pretty full.

So often I've looked at mothers who work as well and wonder how they do it. REcently, though, I realized that for many women (and they would tell you this themselves, by the way), work is a break from teh constant nose wiping, argument settling, boredom-fighting, diaper changing (yes, 2 kids still in diapers over here) ways of the stay at home mom.

As my cousin so eloquently put it, "I look forward to my Wednesdays!" She likes no snot for a day.

Yesterday I was picking Lucy up from preschool and Asher was sitting in his car seat screaming because he was sick and tired (literally), and every time I looked at him I ticked him off more. I got out my phone and started texting someone, and then people were walking by and I'm sure they were thinking, "What kind of a trash mom is that? Texting while her kid is crying?"

Ha.

How often do I look at all of the othe rmothers in their perfectly fitting jeans and lovely not-Wal-mart-highlighted hair and wonder what I'm doing wrong?

And as an aside, little do I know their husband filed for divorce that very morning.

How does so and so spend so much of her time volunteering for this or that ministry at church, and I'm just juggling away at home?

Usually so and so is in a completely different life stage than I am, one that doesn't involve booger-sucking contraptions and pleas for Chick-fil-A every time the car leaves the garage (not to mention the filthy floorboard after the restaurant run). 

Even IF so and so is not in a completely different life stage than I am, how do I know that her home life isn't struggling with all of the volunteer time she's spending on other people?

Quite simply, I don't.

One of my dear friends talks often of the guilt that plagues the modern day mother, churchgoer and friend. 

"If you say 'no', you're less spiritual."

"If you say 'no', you're a bad friend."

"If you say 'no', you're a failure."

I don't want to look back on my 30s with regret. I don't want the time when my tiny kids were the most impressionable and shake my head at how I was always juggling plates and looking outside of the home for validation.

I don't want my husband and children to remember me in this time as frazzled, frantic and frustrated.

I need to keep reminding myself that it truly doesn't matter what others think of my "no's", as long as I am saying them for good reasons. 

I need to look UP, instead of OUT, for my validation.

And on that note, I am saying "no" to more time blogging. We are travelling to the neighboring town to pick out a dryer, and then to go to a fast food joint so the kids can play and I can knit.

I am loving these days, and I treasure them.

Will I feel guilty about it?

NO.

Oh, and I can't promise a clean floorboard, either.

Monday, February 1, 2010

winter song

Dear Nathan,

I never got to meet you, but I feel like I know you.

Your mom and I are pretty good friends. She's amazing, but you already knew that.

I knew, before you were born, that you were going to get the best care possible. I knew that because I know who your parents are, and I know that they would have given their own hearts for you if it meant that you would thrive and run and play and that your soft hair would feel the warmth of a June sun. You would have chased your brothers and gotten into the peanut butter and made your mother wonder if her house would ever be clean again.

Sometimes I don't know what to say to your mom because I know that her pain is so deep, like a valley with walls higher than she can see. How can one mother comfort another, when the only thing that would make it better would be for her to hold you again? 

I imagine how your mama would put you over by a window in your big family room so you could sit in the warm sun as you open presents. The shadows of that big sun skimming through winter tree branches would light up the features of your chubby face, and you'd have a tummy full of cake and a mouth full of new teeth. We would all bring you the ugliest, loudest plastic toys ever made, and you would squeal in delight at each and every one of them. Maybe you'd even scream when your brothers would take them from you, excited about the new toys themselves.

Most of the time life doesn't make much sense. I look at your pictures and cry again, because it seems like there was an awful lot of life wasted. That there should have been more...we'll always be wanting more. 

I know your parents still feel guilt over things they did or did not do for you, and I know that guilt is just part of the pain of living without you. In reality, they made the best decisions and did the best possible things for you...and in the end, they knew they had to let you go...that you belonged where hearts were whole and you could run into Arms that made you who you were. That's pretty amazing, in itself...that every one of your days was ordained by the source of love itself. And your parents know this.

They hurt, though, they do. 

I guess that's the price of loving you so much.

I guess I just wanted you to know that we haven't forgotten you, that you have changed the way I relate to my own children, and that I can't wait to meet you someday. 

I also hope I'm there the day you welcome your Mom and Dad home to heaven. 

Because that? That will be the best birthday party ever.

Love,

Rachel

authenticity is overrated

I have one of those scales that has a digital readout. When a new person is going to subject herself to its torture, she has to program it. This morning Lucy wanted to see if she had gained any weight (a big goal in our house), and she pushed the wrong button so the scale thought a new person was trying to program it. The digital readout kept saying YES...YES...YES...YES... and I thought, "Is the scale having an orgasm?"

Moving on.

Yesterday I talked with a group of women and was relieved to see that none of them was pregnant. I asked one woman how many children she had and she said, "Well, three girls! And a half!" she pointed to her nonexistent baby belly and said, "We get to find out gender tomorrow!" and I wanted to shake her and say, "Nooooooooo.........you find out if your kid's heart has four chambers, and also if the kidneys are in the right spot.......and...ever heard of anencephaly?" But instead I smiled and said, "Oh, a boy would be fun!"

Argh...who am I? I shouldn't be allowed out in public, really I shouldn't. I become an inauthentic shell of my former self.

I've also found that I'm now so awkward in public. In college I was the life of the party and I always knew what to say and how to fly around the room and make everyone comfortable. I didn't have a muffin top (ok, maybe I did, but I didn't think so) and my hair always looked good. I was confident. I think people were drawn to that.

I don't feel that any more. I went to a womens' retreat this weekend (more on that later, hahaha) and found myself breaking into a cold sweat just thinking about going to engage in all of the activities and having to talk to other women who might, OH MY GOSH think I have mascara smudged under my eyes or that my clothing is all wrong (the speaker at the conference gave me a complex) or that my breath stinks.

If there is a group of women and the focus is on me I start to panic. They all start to look like that Seinfeld episode where the camera angle is from the point of view of the ugly baby and everyone is peering into the bassinet, evaluating. Evaluating...

Who is this new person?

What do I do with her?

What to do about the orgasming scale?