Showing posts with label community. Show all posts
Showing posts with label community. Show all posts

Friday, October 21, 2016

in the eye of the storm


It has been a week.

Thursday morning I was writing a LONG blog post about how Bennett has been having a series of allergic reactions, but hopefully the next two days would be calm, when he had another reaction.

Here's the really fun (sarcasm) news: We're not sure what exactly he is reacting to. His doctor is fairly certain Bennett is having a massive immune response to something: either the initial food we thought caused the reaction, or a virus. Right now Bennett is on a very limited diet for 10 days - meat, vegetables, fruit - and then we'll start to reintroduce foods slowly.

Because without being on a limited diet this happened:

Bennett had a breakout - hives all over - Tuesday morning, followed by a flare up in the afternoon and evening. We thought we knew what the trigger was, but immediately after breakfast on Wednesday morning he broke out again. And this time it was worse. On Thursday I once again thought I knew what the trigger was, but in the middle of breakfast I noticed small dots breaking out on his face. I immediately took his food away and put him in a bath with apple cider vinegar and baking soda. I gave him an extra dose of the medicine and tincture given to us by our doctor as well. I don't know if it was the quick action on my part, or something else, but his reaction yesterday was not nearly as severe.

Still.

Five reactions in three days has me a little on edge.

And by a little I mean verging on hysteria much of the time. 

Despite being a nervous wreck most of the week there has been relief as well. The people who have loved us and given me grace while I fall apart have been instrumental in helping us survive the week. I am high needs in these kinds of situations. The stress has been so intense I've been sick most of the week.

And there's been the hand of God on Bennett and our family as we navigate this week.

On Tuesday as I frantically pulled out of the driveway on the way to the doctor the song playing on the radio was Eye of the Storm by Ryan Stevenson and the first lines I heard were,


In the eye of the storm
You remain in control


It was one of those moments where the desperate prayers I lifted up as I prepared for us to leave the house and go to the doctor were heard.

On Wednesday as I was driving to school/work (while Bennett is in school I work for the church in a different part of the building) this song came on




Then on Wednesday afternoon Jonathan came home from work, because my ability to carry on alone didn't seem possible. I needed someone else to be "on" for a while. It's really hard for Jonathan to leave in the middle of the day. I know he had to move patients around, and I know it wasn't easy, but I appreciate him stepping in when I was depleted.

And on Thursday after I completely fell apart on the phone with Jonathan, sobbing and wailing about not wanting to lose another child, a friend called and asked if she could pray over me. Jonathan letting me cry, and my friend praying truth and healing over me and Bennett, were life giving for me. I didn't feel like I could cope. My stomach hurt so much I was ready to haul Bennett and myself into the ER. But with the tears flowing out and the prayers coming in my stomach stopped hurting and I was able to calm down enough to parent effectively and handle Bennett's latest breakout.

Weeks like this I always wish I was a bit more together. Logically I know Bennett is not going to stop breathing suddenly. And if he does struggle to breathe I have medicine to give him via an Epi-Pen and there is a hospital a few minutes away. But when you've watched a child of yours stop breathing, it's extremely difficult to face emergent, or even urgent, situations without that trauma jumping forth from the back of your mind yelling and demanding to be heard. Jon thinks, Hmmm, he's having a reaction, while I think, This is it, the moment I lose him just like I lost his sister.

This evening I can look back and see how I could have handled things better. Or if not better, at least with a little more peace in my heart. But in the moment panic takes over and I just can't see straight. However, I can also see that although I was not very calm I did manage to pray a lot, ask for help, and be thankful.

Thankful for what, you ask?

That I didn't have to go through this week without my faith and my God holding me up.

For Bennett's doctor, who put up with my early morning phone calls and made time in his day twice to see us.

Medicine.

A car to take me to the doctor.

The ability to pay for the doctor and medicine.

Friends and family.

In all of that - the phone calls, the doctor, the people, the prayers - I see the hand of God and I see my prayers being answered. I've been in this season where my faith is stretching and growing through community, and to have the communities that I've found in the last six and a half years be with me during this difficult week has also been a way for me to see God at work in my life.

It is so difficult to say, this is really hard for me. I am not coping well. I don't feel like I can do this, but I am really trying to live honestly and vulnerably, and sometimes that means admitting I don't feel like I can handle what life is throwing at me.

The last three nights I've slept with Bennett's forehead pressed against mine. I forgot that he used to sleep like that as a baby; it was one of the few things that would comfort him when he was small and itchy and we didn't know why. This week I've watched him turn to art and coloring to distract and comfort him when he was in the middle of severe, uncomfortable breakouts (I'm talking head to toe hives). It's important for me to see the growth and change in him; to see the baby and the boy that are contained within every 5-year-old. It reminds me Bennett is growing, and he is here, and full of life and love.

As we drove to his doctor's appointment this afternoon he was listing all the things he saw out the window that God had made. After he worked through that list he said, "And God made me!

He sure did, buddy. And I am so glad God not only made you, but that in His infinite wisdom He chose me to be your mother. I don't feel equipped or able, but through Him I am. Isn't that amazing?

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

more than a mother {community post 5}


Tonight I am in awe of how much has changed and shifted in my life in the last year. Agreeing to listen to the Lord and be in community has led me to paths and trails I never expected to come across, or even knew I wanted.

Much has been written about how important it is to make time for oneself when one is a mother, but that is much easier said than done in my experience. Most evenings I am worn out and done. I don't want to go out. I don't want to find clothes that match, or put on anything other than pajamas.

And yet this week I went out after the kids went to bed last night and tonight. What's even more surprising is that I wanted to go. So often I make plans and then when the time comes to go I'd rather stay home and read. I love you friends, I really do, but I often prefer to be alone after a day of the kids hollering demands and smothering me with love (there is nothing as intense as toddler love is there?).

Last night I went over to a friend's house for our first Bible study meeting. For YEARS I've wanted to dive into the Bible with a friend who is more spiritually mature than me and learn more about my faith, but I have never made steps beyond praying to make it happen. I think it's rare that praying without doing leads to results, but in this case being utterly lazy eventually worked out for me.

And I met this friend through the community group that we learned about and joined when we met the pastor who hosts it when we moved into this house and discovered the left behind washer (full story here) See the thread? God is amazing at weaving those threads, but it takes so many years to get from one point to another I often forget to follow along and be amazed at His hands working in my life.

This evening I went on a walk with one of the moms I met through B's preschool program. A few weeks ago she mentioned we should get together without kids and I jumped on that idea. I invited her and another mother who lives close by to walk Tuesday evenings with me and I can't wait to keep going as long as the weather cooperates. It is so nice to have a conversation without being interrupted.

Knowing Bible study time, or an evening walk, is coming up helps me have energy to get through the day, and it provides a boost for the next day as well. My patience runs thin with the kids at the best of times, but when we're in the middle of a big project like we are now it's even harder for me to stay present, calm, and kind because I don't get a break when J comes home.

Adding time to my evening to walk and study the Bible with new friends adds another ring to my circle of community, and it's one I am really enjoying. I am hesitant to change and reluctant to grow, but following the Lord's prompting has led me to new experiences and opportunities. I still have the friends I did before we moved, before B began school, and before we joined our community group, but it seems like every few months another community ring is added and the work the Lord is doing in me increases.

I'm learning that what I want more than anything is to be known. To know my neighbors (still working on that one) to know the mothers I see at drop-off and pick-off, to know my closest friends, my family, my kids, my husband. It's not enough to move through every day with superficial words of greeting and surface conversations. I want to build relationships so when life goes sideways - or conversely when life goes really, really right and all the dreams come true at once and a cascade of answered prayers fall into place - I can be there and either show compassion or cheer loudly.

And I finally have the confidence to be honest, to ask the hard questions, to invite people into my life because I understand I am completely known by God. People may reject me, or my ideas, but He won't. So far every person He has encouraged me to approach, and every situation He has placed in my life as I pursue the idea of community, has yielded fruit and unexpected benefits. I'm excited to see where the thread goes from here, what God has in store for me next.

Do you feel known? Do you feel accepted in your community? Do you feel invited into other's lives? How do you feel about community and friendship? What role does it play in your life?

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

when things fall apart, come together {community post 4}


I hosted our annual summer bash today. It was wet and wild, with kids and laughter everywhere. In the middle of the chaos I always wonder, is this fun? but then I see kids laughing and moms chatting and I realize it is fun. It's a different kind of fun than putting my feet up and talking late into the night with my friends. Conversations start and stop as water gun fights erupt around the yard and kids run in and out of the house, but talking to someone taller than 3 feet counts as fun even when it's in the midst of chaos.

I've felt a little lost this summer. I miss my best friend, the missing part of a friendship triangle I couldn't have dreamed up had I sketched out the perfect friendship triad in my mind. Two is good. Two is definitely better than one, or zero, but I really miss the one who moved.

I've also felt really sad this summer. I think my babies turning 3 and 5 this fall is throwing me off balance. I am absolutely definitely done with the baby stage, but oh my goodness I'll have a five-year-old in seven weeks and that just seems impossible. Wasn't I just in the NICU begging my tiny B to feed, and breathe, and live so we could go home and watch a baby grow up? That was yesterday, right?

But even in sadness and lostness there is good, and today was really good. Every year the summer play date changes and grows, and every year it gives me a chance to take stock and be thankful for the friends I have in my life. New ones, old ones, every day ones and once a year ones. At one point today I was sitting on the patio watching everyone enjoy themselves and when I looked around at the faces next to and across from me I realized we had all lost children. Not every mother present today had lost a child, but those who were missing one or more were in the majority.

I always want to remember that those people were on my patio today because Charlotte lived. I want to remember that her life has impact, even though she isn't here to live it. And I want to remember that when things fell apart there were so many who were there, and so many who came, and so many who offered to be my friend.

It's fun to plan a big summer bash and invite tons of people and put out pools and water toys and balls and bubbles, but it's also a time to take stock. A time to remember. A time to acknowledge that people are important. And even though seasons bring new faces and friendships to the backyard the core of what I have tried to do with every play date and connection and invitation is be in community because I have felt called to do so.

It's been really challenging, and scary to live in community, and sometimes it doesn't work out. I invited a neighbor to come today, but she didn't cross the street. And I really meant to walk over and remind her, but the day got away from me and I didn't. It would be easier to let it go, to wave if I see her and forget about the invitation, but I want to stick with what I feel the Lord  calling me to, and I really feel the need to be available, to invite, to connect, and to build relationships. I can't be really close with everyone I meet, but I can make people feel noticed; like who they are and what they are experiencing matters. Even in our 30's we can feel like people don't like us because they fail to notice us, or exclude us, or seem as if their friendships are cemented and solid with no room for expansion. I don't want anyone to walk away from me feeling that way.

Being a mother is isolating. It can feel hard to get out, but suffocating to stay home. It's good to know we are not alone. That we are all challenged by our children and their demands, even as we love them so intensely it hurts. And as my year of living in community crosses into another year I'm prepared to continue inviting people over and asking them to sit on my patio, or in my living room, or around my kitchen table because in this year I've learned a few things:

People over things. Relationships over perfection. Crazy loud summer play dates over quiet afternoons in the shade with a good book.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

{community, introduction}


The first house Jon and I bought was a small bungalow built in 1939. It was 1,400 square feet with an unfinished basement, but the top floor was one giant room, which equaled a lot of wasted space for our family because of  the way we live.

I didn't feel like we could entertain very often, because the house was so small. Coming from the bedroom hallway into the kitchen was such a tight squeeze I found myself wedged between the counter and pantry at the end of my second pregnancy!

When the housing market improved we decided to sell our house in the hope of finding a home that  fit our family a little better. I wanted to have friends and family over without feeling like the house might burst at the seams.

See, I'm a paradox. I love to entertain. I enjoy feeding people, and spending time around a big table with food debris piled high in the middle, stomachs full and conversation flowing. That is my idea of a great evening, BUT, I'm an introvert. So for every great evening I need three days of recovery (preferably alone with a stack of books and tea - iced or warm). With two children this is nearly impossible, but when we found our new home, and I saw how much room we would have to entertain, I knew I would have to figure out a way to decompress with two children running up and down the halls with endless amounts of energy, because at this time in my life I feel God calling - and pushing me - to live in community.

What does that mean?

I don't think living in community means going out and making new friends. Or trying to force friendships with people that don't fit you or your personality well. Living in community can mean making new friends, but it often means engaging your people, the ones who are already in your life. And if you claim you don't have time for friends - old or new - or community, I suggest you re-prioritize your life. Creating friendships outside our marriages is so important for individual growth and a healthy life. Couple friends are important as well, but I need my girls like I need food and water.

And while one aspect of living in community involves engaging the people I already know and care for, I think a secondary aspect involves throwing open the front door, so to speak, and loving every. single. person I encounter as Jesus would. And in those encounters going beyond the basics and being brave enough to step out in faith and share Christ's love so that everyone I cross paths with has the opportunity to know Christ and enter into the forever community that is waiting for believers in heaven. 

I am not so great at living out that paragraph ^^ up there. I have a lot of growing to do, so, that's what I'm going to write about for a while. Living in community. Being in community. Creating new communities, and enjoying the established ones. I know it's been a while since this blog has been a regular thing, but I hope you'll join me as I try to write regularly again.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

around the table


My parents are in Europe right now. This extended period of time without them is making me realize how much I need them, and how often my mama helps me with the kids. There are moments when thinking about cold fall mornings with my mama, a newborn baby, and hot chocolate almost makes me want another baby. Those were ideal (sleepy) times, friends. Now my kids are all over the place:



My friends have been amazing these last few weeks. I have needed a lot of help with the kids and they've volunteered/offered/said yes to every request. It's nice to have mama friends my kids know well and are comfortable with. Last week a friend sat in the lobby at church for two hours with Ainsleigh so I could participate in the church membership class. This Sunday a friend watched both kids for a few hours so J and I could attend the final class/lunch.

At the lunch event we had to share our testimonies. I was going to be calm. I had an idea of what I wanted to say. I felt really ready to talk about my faith and how Charlotte's death played into it. But then everyone at our table had a really intense testimony, and I was the second to last to go so I was a complete wreck by the time it was my turn.

I'm not even sure I made sense! After I was like, "Oh J, I'm a mess. What is wrong with me?" And he was kind and reassuring and said I really had nothing to worry about, but goodness sometimes I would like to be less of a mess - you know what I mean? But it was nice to really get to know a handful of people from the church who we haven't met before. Although if I ever have to do this again I'm just going to pass out copies of something I've written out and stay silent.

I tend to stick with the people I know. We all do that to some degree, but I'm really introverted (today was a little painful for me. I was grumpy with the kids all evening because I just wanted to be ALONE for a while) and making friends is hard for me. I have a small group of close friends and I'm quite happy with who I know and who knows me.

But sometimes the Lord stretches me and asks me to sit at a table full of strangers and tell my story. And I think it was quite the experience for everyone at that table today. It's so easy to stay in a safe place, but when we open ourselves to the possibility that we are all a mess, that we all have histories and pasts that have wrecked us, and that Jesus has rebuilt us, amazing things can happen. We can all be thankful for Jesus together instead of standing off to the side and wondering why everyone else has it all together. No one has it all together, friends. Some of us just have bigger houses to hide our messes in.

Try being real with someone this week. You don't have to tell your life story to six strangers, but you could tell a close friend you're hurting, or that your marriage is falling apart, or that you're really worried about one of your kids, or that you're really excited about what God is doing in your life. When you live in community you don't have to hold anything in. You don't have to edit your life so that people around you will be comfortable with who you are. I encourage you to find people who want the full edition of your life - footnotes and all - because in them you can find rest - and someone to watch your kids.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

spoken world blog round-up TWO


Thanks to Angie from Still Life With Circles for hosting another round up. I hope lots of people participate this year. I've "known" some of you over two years now. It's good to hear you speak.



Last year's video.

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