Children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children born in one's youth. Blessed are they whose quivers are full. They will never be shamed contending with foes at the gate. ~Psalm 127:3-5

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Something Great

On my road to recovery, which I've written about here, here, and here, I have come across a realization: I lost something.  I lost something big.  I was once told by my mother that the Holy Spirit told her through various friends to not worry so much about her children's futures; that He was going to do great things through each of us. That story is a really neat one; maybe I'll share it another time. I was told this early in my life and as I grew older, I really believed it.  I knew God had something planned, but of course I didn't know what.  As life goes, my path meandered toward and then far away from Him and His plan, and back again.  A few times.  But I always had that spark in the back of my mind, the one that would eventually light the flame under my desire to actually do something great.

I can remember, and have actual evidence, in notes and other things people have written to and about me over the years, that I have always had a heart to serve other people. I've always had compassion and sympathy for their plight, and maybe for the human condition in general.  I've always wanted to help.  Not because it made me something, but because I could see it helped to make them something.  Whether it was more focused, more curious, more peaceful, more courageous, I could tell that often-times whatever I did or said or wrote helped soothe their souls.  And I knew it was not from my mind or abilities, but from the Holy Spirit.  This was His something great for me.  And I knew it.  My heart yearned to be directed by Him in helping people, even if in the smallest of ways, and leaving them with a better sense of who they were in Him.  What path they could take.  Which adventure to travel.  What piece of themselves they could challenge or nurture or renew.  And also, I longed to help them to know what love truly is.

When I got married, I was super excited to be part of a brand new family.  To bring into it all the love I experienced from my parents and siblings growing up, and to help draw new people into the boundless Love of Christ.  I didn't feel as though it was my job to "save" anyone, but I knew that as all Christians, I, too, was called to bring others to Him.  I didn't realize how much of a mountain I was climbing with that.  And I know I failed miserably in it.  I know it because part of the way up, I lost my path.  I lost who I was and my purpose.  I lost my sense of understanding what I was meant to do.  I became confused.  I became frightened.  And I started my descent back down.  I gave up.  And I knew I had failed.

Getting to a place of being able to look at the journey I walked away from was difficult. There are still days in which the sting from what I endured keeps me from being able to move forward in my recovery.  But other days, days when I am granted a certain peace or strength by my heavenly Father, I can look.  I can put it all under a microscope and dissect each piece.  I can sort out the good times (and yes, there were some good times), and I can cherish them and tuck them away for another time.  And I can pick through the many shards of hurt:  The miscommunication.  The tearing down of my identity.  And I see it- that something great.  I see it quickly fading as time and time again I am told I am not worth the effort or time, I am not worthy of love, I am not considered family, my kids don't matter, I am useless, I am not able to help anyone, I should stop wanting to "save" people.  I flip through the slides of these moments like a time-lapse photo album, and I see the frays around my mind appear, and snag, and then begin to furiously unravel.

I've notice lately that I am fearful when I talk to others.  They ask me questions.."what do you think about X, what would you do in Y situation....how do I do this like you?"   They ask these things of me, and the old me- the one who was confident in my something great- would easily have launched into an answer.  Mind you, it would not be earth-shattering, eloquent or even awe-inspiring, but it would be something.  To them, it might be one small piece of their puzzle, some small direction or aide.  Or, it might not even be exactly what they need at that moment.  And quite possibly it might not be anything they want to hear.  But it would be something.  And I would say it or write it, and I would feel confident that I did the best I could and I would pray that the Lord would take that opportunity to either shine through me or shine in spite of me.  But regardless, I was working on fulfilling that utterance of the something great He said He would do with me. 

But now..now I am afraid.  I hesitate.  I don't articulate well.  I don't trust myself.  I worry that I'm saying too much.  Pushing too much.  Helping too much.  I am worried that they'll reject me, that they'll stop talking to me.

I am broken.  Much more broken than I ever was when I was battling myself on the path back to the Lord for good.  I am afraid to do something great.  I am afraid to try.

The truth is, we should ALL want to make some mark on the world.  We should ALL want to do something great.  That could simply look like volunteering at a soup kitchen.  Or it could be solving the clean-energy crisis.  It could take the form of counseling a wayward teen, or dropping $5 in the cup of a homeless beggar. Or finding a natural cure for cancer. It could very well just mean focusing on your family and ensuring that they know how much they are loved and cherished, spending time with your children and guiding them with your love.  As one whole body of Christ, everything we each do ripples out and affects everyone. We're not just mindless, selfish sheep wandering around through life with no direction and no purpose.  Our life's very breath is dependent on a Creator who loves us so much that He created us to share in this amazing and beautiful world, to take part in being a living vessel in which He can show others His love and invite them to His table, to His strong embrace.  We CAN make our mark, make a difference, do something great.  And we should never allow anyone to cause us to lose that knowledge and push us off our path.  I know this.  And yet, I allowed that very thing to happen.

I'm slowly working on figuring out how to smooth my way back onto that particular path; of wanting to help people without being afraid.  I want to once again feel confident in the knowledge that this is the Lord's something great, His something great for me.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

I'm Not Better Than You

My husband and I were having a conversation last night about people.  It began with a discussion about a neighbor making a comment on something on Facebook in which I tagged my husband, a comment that was totally inappropriate to make in the context of what I posted, especially because it didn't even have anything to do with what I was posting about, and one which made me feel like he secretly has some issue with me.  Which would be funny because he doesn't know me at at all... but I digress.

Our conversation then turned to my drawing inward and coming back out with "am I a really terrible person and I am just in complete denial about it?"  Because we know someone a little like this.  His reply, "no, people just think you're opinionated, like you're better than them and they take it the wrong way."  "What am I opinionated about?" I asked in complete innocence.  "Not really opinionated, but just that we homeschool and go to church and all that... and you're vocal about it...people think you think you're better than they are." 

Um...what?

Since when did MY decisions about MY family equate to "I'm better than you." ?

I am the type of person that wants to be told when there's an aspect of myself that can be improved.  Even if it hurts.  Even if at first, I don't like it!  I want to be a better person in general.  So I welcome the truth.  But I don't want YOUR truth. I don't want you to tell me something about myself based on your whacked out version of observance because you don't know anything about me at all and haven't taken the time to get to know me.  I'm a whole human being.  Your experience of but one or two or even three aspects of the millions of parts of my identity will not tell you enough about me to warrant such a harsh and generalized judgment. 

There is something about this song that seems familiar.  Oh yes, it's the soundtrack of the last ten years of my life as a Mack, which I spent warding off my husband's family who accused me of all these things, including that I thought I was better than them, that my family was better than theirs.  Accusations based on the fact that they don't even know me at all, that they make assumptions about me based on one or two aspects of my life that they have witnessed, or based on their witness of someone else's behavior which they project onto me.

I'm changing the station.  I'm done with all that.

The truth is, I don't think I'm better than ANYONE.  I'm no better than the beggar on the street at the stoplight on the way to the store, the person in the ghetto, my one neighbor who hates me because I have six children. I'm no better than my husband's "family," no better than the mailman.  No better than anyone.  I know this.  I believe it.  I am constantly aware of it.

I'm just different.

I follow a set of moral standards that most of the world does not.  I do this because I'm called to, as a Catholic Christian.  It's hard.  If I really wanted to do what my flesh wants, my life would look completely different.  But I was asked to do and be what I am striving toward, and though I fail CONSTANTLY at it, I'm TRYING.  This doesn't make me better than anyone. It just means my convictions are different than some people's.

I homeschool my children in a world where there is still a huge- unwarranted - stigma related to homeschooling, and where most people are still largely unaware of the consistent (but not exclusive) failure of the school system to actually produce healthy members of society.  I homeschool because the public school system presents a constant resistance to- and often override of- the morals I want to teach my children, and the atmosphere of a brick-and-mortar school setting is not conducive to allowing a child to really explore all that they are interested in or all of their capabilities.  These two ideas barely scratch the surface of all the reasons I homeschool, but neither these two nor the rest of my reasons are because I think I'm better than anyone.   You want to send your child to public school, that's great.  Good for you!  I have no opinion about your choice at all.  It's not my business.  Just like where my kids go to school isn't your business.

I have a large family.  Yes.  I do.  It's not because I really absolutely adore children.  It's not because I am getting some government benefit from having lots of children.  I'm not.  It's not because I think I'm better than anyone who has less.  I have a big family because God asked me to be open to life.  And while that doesn't always equate to having a big family (I know many many people who are open to life AND want a big family, but have been able to have only one or two kids), for me, it does.  And while this is a HUGE challenge for me on a consistent basis, I'm ok with it.  I'm ok with any number of little souls which God entrusts to me to create saints for heaven's glory.  I fail at my duty.  A lot.  I sometimes wonder why He trusts me so much.  I scream at my kids sometimes.  I get upset.  I cuss sometimes.  I don't say nice things to my kids every moment of the day.  I'm a sinner.  I'm not perfect.  I could name many many women I know who could be doing a much, MUCH better job than I am.  But for some reason, I was the one chosen for the monumental feat of baring and raising these children and I'm told by women much wiser than me that God did not make any mistakes; I am the one for the task.  This doesn't make me better than anyone.  Not one bit.

I really wanted to be snarky and cynical about this whole thing.  I guess I am a little sensitive.  But really, I'm just sad. I'm sad that people don't take the time to actually get to know a person before making assumptions about them.  I mean, my in-laws spent TEN years wasting their energy on tearing me down and rejecting me instead of spending that time getting to know me.  My neighbor has never spent more than three seconds in conversation with me and yet has some idea of me that isn't true.  People are quick to make a judgement on someone else's character or personality or whathaveyou, instead of actually taking the time to get to know them, to love them.

So you don't have time to get to know me?  Who's the one acting better than who now?

Friday, October 3, 2014

Enough?

Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the many little bodies wandering around our home- the noise, the movement, the sometimes-bad behavior. I get overwhelmed by the idea that I am just one person with but two arms and there are so many kids. So many needs. So many voices. So many little souls in my care. And I worry. Am I doing enough? Am I good enough? When they act up and are so insane, I am convinced I am not enough. That I am failing. But then there are days.... Days like today. Mornings when the sun peeks out from behind gray clouds, through my window, illuminating small feet and chubby fingers, wispy hair and cherub faces, little bodies curled around us. And then....when there's movement and giggles and stretching and padding on tiny toes to the bathroom.. When there's fresh coffee suddenly appearing before us in bed and smiling toothy grins behind the cup. When they are working together to make pancakes and set the table for breakfast. With out help. With out complaint or even being asked. Without fighting. And the excitement over a task completed. The proud song of praise for each other's accomplishment as they flipped the pancakes just so, and worked together to take on a new feat without me. And I realize....maybe I am enough after all. Maybe God really is blessing my efforts and filling in where I lack. Because He doesn't call the qualified. He qualifies the called.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Rosary Beads

Can't find your rosary?

No problem!  Babies have teeny tiny toes which are perfect in lieu of those lost rosary beads. 

Hail Mary.....


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Battles

This will be a potpourri post of a few different things....

First of all, our daughter was born!!  Looking over my last post, I am laughing..  She was born the very next day after I wrote that post, on the obscure EDD that we hadn't even regarded as a real one.  I gave my big sister a really nice birthday present.. One she couldn't actually keep..but a nice one nonetheless!  Ha!   We are over the moon in love with baby GG, of course, and of course she looks exactly like her siblings.  I'm pretty sure she will have brown eyes. They seem to get darker every day.  Her big brother, Jeremiah, who calls her 'baby face' just loves her to pieces.  But because he is only two, we have to watch him around her.  One second he's kissing all over forehead and toes, the next, he's trying to bite her toes off or dragging his nails across her head.  She completes our family in so many ways.  Right now I'm listening to her cute little hiccups, which seem to be her trademark as she had them pretty much my entire pregnancy and almost every day since she was born.  The kids love her.  We love her.  My family loves her.  Our friends love her.  No one in Hubby's family has bothered to meet her.  Which leads me to the next thing and the inspiration for the title of my post.

A few months before I had the baby, the final semi-link to hubby's family was severely damaged and I wrote a blog post about temperance because I just couldn't deal with it at the time.  Since then, so much has changed within our little family unit that it seems so pointless, all of it, to even think about anymore.

And that's what this is - the battle - I think - is over.  There's been a huge disconnect from it for both of us but I think the shift has occurred mostly in my husband.  He just can't afford to care anymore.  He seems done battling his emotions and his what should-be's and his wants and his ideas of what family is or isn't.  He'll be 40 years old in about six months or so and I think he's reached a point in his life where he is okay with not having his family to count on.   He might not like it and he might sometimes wish things were different, but as there isn't anything that can be done at this point, I think he's just over it.  When he talks about it, he seems to be resigned to that, anyway.  He has a family to take care of and spend his energy, love and time on.  He has six children to raise and love and play with.  He has me, his wife, who would do anything for him, anything to see a smile upon his handsome face, anything to fill his heart with unconditional love.  He also has a whole slew of friends, people who have stepped in to fill positions his family has left empty, to  fill in and overflow the holes in his heart.  And of course, he has the family he married into.  Not perfect, often crazy.  But always always there no matter what.  He has more than enough.

As for me, reviewing the past ten years as his wife, I realized that even though I was his wife, I was never part of that family.  He was barely considered part of that family, so I can't really expect that I would be.  Sure, there were brief periods when it seemed like we were, but looking at the things that made it so we weren't, it's not difficult to realize that it was all a facade.  Because real family with true unconditional love doesn't just back away or dump you the second you say you're unhappy with something, or want more, or the minute things are difficult.  We were considered "family," when it was convenient and easy.  And I know that having severe mental illnesses such as they do plays a part in how people treat others.  But perhaps it's a good thing that things occurred the way they did.  We both finally got to see them for who they really were.  No masks.  And it.is.sad.  So we don't blame them in the sense that we think they choose to be jerks.  We are both just to the point where it's time to stop thinking about it, cut our losses and move on a little more quickly than we have been. It's time for the rest of our healing process to take place, for our focus to shift, for our life to move along.

We sort of were paralyzed for quite some time as we waited and prayed and angsted about what to do.  We realized we can't really do anything.  When toxic unloving people are causing such a rift in our life, disturbing our peace and tempting us to lash out and be angry, it's time to step away.  As far as we can.  We can't change the fact that they don't want to be part of our life, or to know the kids or love the kids.  We can't do anything but worry about our own family from here on out.  We've stuck in there for so long, tried to talk, tried to explain how we feel.  But stubborn selfish people don't like to change their hearts and make room for others and while that is sad and hurtful, the acceptance HAS to come.   Our life is so much more peaceful now that we don't have to worry about any of that.  My husband is so much more peaceful and happy as he lets go more and more.  I've seen some of the light return to his beautiful brown eyes.  I've seen his heart open more to other people and more love from them.  He is finally allowing some of his wounds to heal completely.

God has called us to love from a distance. That love looks like prayerfully seeking healing and peace in our hearts, softening our hearts to them and the pain they have caused, and to pray for them to seek His love out, to seek His path for their lives, to come to an understanding of what love actually looks like.  I kind of wonder who else there is to pray for them.  Our battles have shifted focus.  We are now battling ourselves to follow what He asks of us... To put aside our tendencies of the flesh and take the path to holiness.  To battle the sinfulness in our hearts, temptations from satan, the world and its draws. To raise the white flag and surrender to the will of God.
It's so incredibly difficult at times, but so much has changed in such a short amount of time since we really started taking steps.  There's always a hope that in the future things will be different in the way of family..  But we won't hold our breath.  And that's okay.

There is so much exciting stuff in store for our little family and I can't wait for it all to come to fruition.  The journey for our family of now-8 has been really difficult, especially the past few months, but we are remaining faithful that the Lord is paving our path and putting things into place for us.  I've had it in my mind to plan a big huge bash for my hubby for his 40th birthday, to celebrate him and the amazing man he is and the leaps and bounds he has made in his life.  We also have been talking about utilizing that time to renew our wedding vows.  Our ten-year anniversary is this December, just a few short months but we thought we might combine the celebration of that with the celebration of hubby in the Spring when it's warm.  Still working out the details in my head. Nothing is concrete.

I'm pretty sure I spoke too soon about wanting to post more, and of the things I'd be writing and all of that... because I'm so incredibly busy.  So this time right now will be sporadic with updates and the 2.5 of you who actually read my blog on a regular basis know how to contact me anyway to find out what's going on in our world.  Email or call me any time!

Blessings abound, even when they don't appear to, despite any battles we may face.  God has been so good to us, even when we have messed up and we are so humbled by His love.  I hope anyone reading this who has been through similar life situations will take comfort in that thought and turn to Him. He fulfills ALL our needs.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

EDD's, Contractions and Nesting

So my due date based on my LMP has passed.  It's not the due date my midwife was going off of so it passed without much ado from anyone.  Except the voices in my head.  I was convinced, based on the awful way I have been feeling, that my baby would be born around the beginning of July.  Here we are now, slowly moving toward the middle and another EDD.  I actually have 3.  Two are based on a sonogram: one of the gestational sac size at the time of the ultrasound, and other on the crown-to-rump length, though I'm not sure why that plays such a huge factor in deciphering the true EDD. What if my baby is really short?  Nevertheless, the second one is approaching (tomorrow, the 11th to be exact) and still no major signs of baby coming.

I do realize that the EDD is just exactly that - an ESTIMATED due date.  Though many babies are actually born on this date, many also are not.  Many go way beyond their EDD's.  Many come early.  Because I have 3 EDD's, my mind is having a field day and so are my emotions.  I've never been one to really be too anxious at the end of my pregnancies; I usually follow the motto, 'baby will come when baby is ready.'   But this one, this time, is different.  Perhaps it is the craziness of the entire pregnancy that has kept me captivated and obsessing over the EDD.  I have been having such a difficult time, and outside factors have definitely played a part in all that.  I've never been given 3 EDD's.  We sort of weren't even looking at the middle one at all and like I said, my midwife was going by the third one.  She's been fine with it.  I, however, was convinced this baby wouldn't stay in that long.

Over the last few weeks, I've had contractions which have grown increasingly in intensity but still aren't doing much to bring on real labor.  I've been up and down with my moods, how I feel physically, the baby's position in my womb, my energy level.  A few times I thought I was in nesting mode, especially in the past week.  Tonight, I kinda hit it hard I think.  I have been doing laundry for the past few days.  Today I felt the need to get the rest of it finished.  Stat.  I also baked something this morning.  And I vacuumed the entire house in anticipation of my husband having time to mop it tonight.  I rearranged several things, moved a few small pieces of furniture and re-checked my birth supplies.  I think I am nesting for real this time.

But when will baby come?  Tomorrow is my sister's birthday.  Maybe our little Gianna will decide to make her appearance then; a nice little birthday gift for my oldest big sis. I can't make her come any faster.  Who knows, maybe even that final EDD will be the day, or maybe she will stay in there longer?   I think if I were a baby and I heard all the craziness going on around me, I'd stay put for as long as possible.  Especially when the woman who is supposed to take care of me is such a nut case!

We'll see.. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Temperance

Temperance is NOT one of my strong suits.  I don't mean temperance with food and drink, but when it comes to SAYING things or THINKING things.  I have been working on tempering my words but as I recently confessed, I have major fails a lot. Most of the time, when I say things I do have a motive of love, but not all the time.  So temperance in those times that I don't is especially important.

I recently had a small blip in my day that really irritated and hurt me.  Someone was just so rude and disrespectful to me in a sneaky way, and I really just didn't even know at first how to handle it.  Then I realized, temperance has to take place here.  Not only am I simply exhausted from life in general, and more specifically crappy hurtful behavior and drama from specific people, but I just felt it strongly on my heart that I had to let it go.  I had to.  For my own sanity and for the sake of a peaceful last few weeks of my pregnancy, I just had to drop it wherever it would lay and move away from it as fast as possible.  I also know God has been moving within me so much lately, in response to my prayers that He break me as much as He needs to and continue to make me what He wants me to be. I'm sure this is part of that.  Temperance (self-control) is a Fruit of the Spirit. Who doesn't need more temperance? 

Temperance of my words was fairly easy.  Temperance of my thoughts, not so much.  I had righteous anger but it still detracted from my life in those moments and I found it really hard to focus on my day.  I may have succeeded in not saying anything to the person, but my thoughts had a field day. I had to journal a little, and bake, and attempt to get it out of my head. I also talked A LOT to my very close friend because she is so honest and wise, and because that helped me to not talk to the person.  I also sought council from a really awesome group of Catholic women who helped me to stay on the path of righteousness and just pray, instead of going off on the person. These women are the type that will let you know if you're being ridiculous, will be honest with you a hundred percent, and won't allow any sort of tearing down of other people to take place in any form.  They will pray for and with you.  They will help you to see all sides, and point you in the direction of holiness.  I needed their council and was so grateful for it.  I know that usually, when you have an issue with someone, you are supposed to talk to the person about it.  But this was not one of those cases. Nothing good could have come of it.  They had already broken my trust when they didn't come to me with their issue and instead did what they did, and I was left knowing that I couldn't trust them any longer with anything.  Which made me especially sad because I had been trying to make efforts to build a real friendship, and I was proven yet again that sometimes, I'm just an idiot for giving people a second chance.  Sometimes, the benefit of the doubt isn't always the right thing to bare in mind.

I have to be somewhat thankful for this event, though.  I try to seek the positive even in the most crappy situations so this must be it: I realized the person's true colors. Here I was, thinking that my attempts, slow but steady, were actually working toward building something solid. I was so fearful to begin this feat, with good reason, but convinced myself that everyone deserves a second chance.  But this particular event made me realize that no, not everyone does and in fact, as I would cement a layer of solidarity, this person would come beneath it and muck it back out before it had time to dry.  Little by little, it was crumbling and I guess there was only a matter of time.  So I'm grateful that it was something rather small that opened my eyes instead of something major. 

I also have to be thankful because my first (lately) real serious and conscious effort at tempering my words to someone who has hurt me led to my being able to do it with several other people on matters that weren't major, nothing hurtful exchanged, but just topics in general that are hard. (See link about talking too much, at the top)  It felt freeing!  I was really proud of myself.  And I was grateful to the Lord.  It's not always going to be easy to do so, especially when it's about something important or related to God's truth.  But I know that the more I work on it, the easier it will become.  I pray that I can get to a point where wisdom kicks in and I can always know the right thing to say at the right time, and more importantly, know when not to say anything at all.