Today’s Been a Good Day

Today’s been a good day. Luke’s tics are low, his spirits high. He woke up early and read an entire chapter book. He wrote a book report. He aced his Social Studies test. He whipped through Math. He carefully and neatly did his Handwriting. He cooked his own lunch. He cleaned his room. He studied his spelling words with no complaints. I gave him time to do coding and he got off his technology the first time I asked. Days like today, we fit in extra and more thorough work to make up for the days that aren’t so good.

Some days are bad. Yet, we get through and finish his work. It just may take longer. Some days end in tears because it is hard to be a kid whose life is mostly involuntary. Imagine not being able to control your own body. That’s one of the reason’s homeschooling felt like the right choice. It gives us the freedom to follow the ebb and flow of Tourette’s. It gives Luke the freedom to be Luke.

I remember a day right before we had made our final decision to homeschool. We were at a trampoline park with friends. Luke’s tics were bad, so bad. There was this mom who kept staring at him. Luke noticed. He came over to me, bent down, and hid his head between my legs. We left shortly after. That night it all became clear. I thought back to the way he would pull his hood over his head and put his head down at the most random times. Also, times when he would freeze and not answer me or someone else when they tried talking to him. So many times of him trying to hide because he was afraid of his own body’s movements that he couldn’t control and had no clue why.

It isn’t easy to look back on things for what they really were. We didn’t know exactly what was going on, but we knew something was. Slowly the tics got worse and worse. I began thinking, it could be…no it can’t be…oh I know it is what it is…it is most definitely Tourette’s. 

I wish people could see what it is really like to live this way. People just don’t get it. I’m not even mentioning the other diagnoses Luke struggles with. Ugh. Don’t get me going. It’s his life though. It is our life and all we can do is embrace it, trust God, and lean on those who have chosen to walk through this life with us.

Therapy helps. A less busy schedule helps. Understanding friends and family helps. For us, homeschooling has been a huge blessing. Also just knowing and understanding what Tourette’s is helps. I remember when Luke first got diagnosed, the doctor looked him in the eye and told him there was nothing wrong with him. It wasn’t his fault, she said. I saw his eyes light up for the first time in a long time. Every day since, more and more of his light has returned.

I feel like the biggest part of my job has become helping him see that he has Tourette’s, but Tourette’s does not have him––God has him. He always has and always will.

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My Story. His Story.

bible-biblia-book-1112048 (1)A few years back as I was scrolling through Facebook, I came across a video of my grandpa. His church, my childhood church, did a series of interviews from some of their members. They were all focused on connecting their stories with Jesus’ story. My grandpa spoke a lot about my grandma and the life they built together. He mentioned a verse they relied on throughout their life together. “And we know that all things work together for the good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). His eyes were tear-filled as he recalled their past and his pain of her death. It was powerful. I never imagined though, the twist his story would take after that interview.

He met someone in a bible study and remarried. His new wife is a very kind lady and they seem to balance each other. It is weird and yet it makes me happy at the same time. He has a new life, a different life. Last summer he showed up to a cookout wearing a shirt I would’ve never seen him in before. I know it is just a shirt, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it. After my grandma’s death watching his pain was almost unbearable. I thought he had completely given up. Now, he is living again and even sporting a new style of shirt.

When I think of my story and all the plot twists that have brought me to where I am right now, I see how He is and has always been working to bring me closer to Him. I see how struggles and weaknesses that pull me to draw from His strength and not my own often tend to bring out my authentic self. I know who I am and whose I am now. When I was a teenager I searched inside myself only to find happiness is fleeting. It took pain and heartache to realize I’ll never find contentment in myself or this world. I needed those years of nullity because without them I wouldn’t have the dependence on God that I do today. I wouldn’t have the ability to lean into His presence in my darkest hours like I do today.

When I was a child, I thought praying should yield some sort of magical Jesus dust to instantly fall upon me and take my troubles away. When that didn’t occur, I assumed I was just doing something wrong. I wasn’t trying hard enough. I wasn’t worthy enough. No one taught me to think this way…it was my own misunderstanding. I do not even wish someone would have told me otherwise. Without that misunderstanding, my moment of revelation wouldn’t have been so powerful.

Today, I see Jesus and His story through my kids and their struggles and weaknesses. Through homeschooling Luke and helping him through all that has been happened, I see his true personality beginning to shine through once again. I see how his weaknesses are helping to shape him into the man he will someday be. Homeschooling has also pulled me into a natural rhythm I never thought possible.

With Luke doing better and being calmer, Oliver has been able to relax into his own self better as well. I’ve had more time and energy to hang with Oliver. Last night we worked on some Algebra problems and he lit up with joy. Oliver loves math. He just may reach his goal of learning Calculus by third grade…as long as his momma can brush up on her math skills in the next couple of years!

Matt and I have created this life together (with God’s help). The more we grow as one, the more our faith deepens, and the more we recognize His hand in everything we see and appreciate the beauty in our simple life. So much has changed from our younger days and I never imagined the struggles we would face and yet I wouldn’t change a thing.

Stories don’t need to be perfect or big and profound to matter. We don’t need to wait until things become smoother to share what Jesus has done or is doing for us. Even in the midst of our mess, He is working. We need to remember during hard times that He has an eternity mindset. Eternity, not today. He really is working for the good of those who love Him. Thank you, Lord.

Brittle Leaves

3A03A5F5-7F37-41F4-B7C8-073DFB8EA448As we drove down the snow-covered highway, I watched out my window as the scenery slipped by. Some of the trees had a few brown leaves still hanging on the branches. I wondered how the brittle leaves survived the ice, snow, and wind this winter has inflicted on them. There were large powerful looking trees that lost their fight to the wintry forces. What was helping those brittle leaves hang on? Maybe the leaf stalk? Pure luck? I’m not sure why I found it so amazing and why I spent any time trying to figure it out.

I knew there’s surely some scientific reason, but those sort of things tend to put my metaphorical-thinking brain into overdrive. My curiosity into finding the real reason quickly dwindled and turned into a pondering of strength and resilience.

I recently celebrated my fortieth birthday. There are many things I could share about my life and things I’ve learned. Strength, though, is one thing I feel I know something about and is something that can change someone’s perspective on everything.

When I was younger, I never felt like I was tough enough for this world. I tried, I pretended, but eventually I realized there really is no such thing as a strong person. There are only those who act strong. Once I accepted this I saw the power of weakness and it helped deepen my faith. It became more understandable to me, I guess is the best way to describe it. There was no longer a need to even try to be strong anymore. I no longer needed to pretend to be something I never could authentically be. I could just rely on God’s strength: the only real strength there is.

God’s strength gives me, a brittle leaf, the power to withstand anything. How amazing is that? 

Rooms of my Heart

Reaching in the depths of my soul to take, feel, and apply the words I’ve been pondering.

If I knew how much God loves me…

Of course, I cannot truly know the measure of His love for me. No one can. I get glimpses, mostly passing swiftly through my life. Sometimes I pause and hold tightly as long as I can. Sometimes I cannot hold His love on my own. I think that is why we need each other so much. A smile on a hard day, a reminder of my importance in someone’s life, and a connection of any sort reorientates me to His love. We really are too weak to do this alone.

The challenge at church this week is Forgiveness. It first has focused on God’s forgiveness of our own sins. Thinking of Jesus’ death on the cross has been a great reminder of His love for me. Anyway, it reminded me of a poem I wrote a while back called Rooms of my Heart.

Through the Stillness

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In the rooms of my heart the windows never close.

I watch the swelling of the curtains as memories old and new blow through.

My room of pain is deep within.

Layer upon layer of paint conceal the hurt that lies beneath.

There is a closet of white clothes.

Sometimes I see the crisp white fabric and sometimes all I see are stains.

Down the hall is a room with only darkness.

I try to light a candle, but there’s a force that blows it out.

The room is cold and I feel the chills of life run up and down my spine.

I never stay long there…

I rush into my room of things I love.

It is filled with my kids laughter and my husband’s embrace.

I also have my room of peace.

A worn comfy chair, a warm blanket, and a book await me there.

I stare…

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“Be still,” said the storm..err I mean God.

cropped-image1.jpegOur entire church is doing a bible study, even the children are doing their own version. It is broken down by week and each week has a challenge. Then every day has a reading and challenge that pertains to the challenge of the week. This week’s challenge is on ‘being’. It is funny and fascinating that the frigid cold weather has forced us into a state of being. It’s as though God chuckled and said, “I’ll see to it that these peeps get the most out of this challenge.” I cannot help but wonder what next week will bring!

As you may know, I homeschool one kid and the other goes to public school. Oliver has been home with us due to school closures. Yesterday, my husband’s work was closed as well. So, we all stayed at home. It was nice. I didn’t have the kids do any work, besides cleaning their rooms. I made some homemade soup. We really didn’t do much of anything, but I have a feeling the boys will have fond memories of yesterday.

A while ago, I deactivated my Facebook account. No surprise since I often take breaks from social media. I like to be handsfree. I don’t like pausing in those moments that are meant to be special to snap a picture. Or pause to think the moment would make a cute post to share. It isn’t that I don’t ever take pictures, I love me some pictures. It is just I don’t feel like I need to take as many now. I feel more present not carrying my phone around as though it is an extension of me. Because it isn’t. It isn’t supposed to be.

So yeah, I felt this week would not be a challenge for me because I naturally like ‘being’. I named my blog Through the Stillness, for goodness sake. Boy, was I wrong. It hit me (well it more like knocked the wind out of me). There is one area of my life where I struggle to just be and trust my Father in heaven. When a loved one is struggling I step in and want to do and then do some more to fix the problem. I don’t rest when I know someone I deeply care about is hurting. I also blame myself when things don’t get better for them, as if it is my fault. It isn’t such a horrible way to be. No one should struggle alone. Everyone should have someone who will walk along with them and help when they need it. It is just, I have to leave room for and trust God’s will to be done. Even when His will is causing pain that I cannot fix..or better said…fix on my own. Ugh. What made me think I should fix problems on my own, anyhow?

I’m thankful for this week and for the storm that has given me the time to pause and see my weakness in the area of being. How beautiful it is to see the incessant way God chips away at us.

Our Life Right Now

It’s 11am on a Sunday morning and we should be sitting in church. I want to be in church. Instead, we are home. It has been a rough weekend. It began Friday evening when Luke couldn’t fall asleep. We stayed up late because we were at someone’s house enjoying ourselves. We were doing what “normal” people do. The kids were playing and the adults were talking. Time passed quickly. Looking back, I feel like I should have known better. Luke’s tics become almost violent in nature when he’s too tired. But then, it feels good to have moments to feel “normal”…and so it didn’t cross my mind until I was lying in bed with Luke trying to help him relax in between his tics.

Yesterday was just hard because he didn’t get enough sleep. It carried on all day and even into the night. We tried to get him to bed at 8pm, his regular bedtime, but it didn’t work. We ended up playing cards so he could get his mind off the tics. This morning, we allowed him to get the sleep he needed and so it was too late to make it to church.

A couple years ago, I don’t think we missed one day of Sunday school or church (unless we were sick or out of town). Our church life looks much different now and it makes me sad…yet this is our life. All of it has me thinking of how different life and church is for families with kids who have struggles. I don’t have the energy to say anything else right now except that it is hard and I can’t beat myself up over missing a couple weeks.

The Love For Your Family

I was weary for quite some time. I was a heartbroken momma wanting to know how to help my boy. I was impatiently waiting for God to answer my prayers, not wanting to trust what He was doing behind the scenes to prepare us. 

Last Sunday evening as I was lying in bed, I prayed we were making the right decision. I mean, I already knew we made the right decision. God clearly revealed it to us. It’s just, sometimes my humanness makes me second-guess things. Through all my humanness, all my weakness, there’s one thing I never second-guess: the peace only He can give. In my moment of questioning, that lovely peace enveloped me and has carried me through this entire week.

Over Christmas break, Luke was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome. Another diagnosis added to his list. It doesn’t seem right. It definitely isn’t fair. We weren’t surprised by it though. The symptoms described everything we had been noticing.

This year, school became hard. We realized he was spending so much energy trying to suppress his tics that he was unraveling at home. Add that to the energy it takes with his eye disorder and just the normal energy it takes to learn and so on. Plus through all of that, his grades were great. No wonder he was unraveling. On weekends, Luke was worn and anxious thinking about the coming school week. Kids were noticing his tics and were asking him questions. Most were not being mean, but it was pushing him further and further into a shell. He was sad and frustrated at the world. We were trying everything we could and nothing seemed to help him. I was losing my fun-loving bold kid. We had to do something different.

It’s crazy what the love for your family gives you strength to do. Never did I ever think I would homeschool. Yet, here I am. Our first week passed and went great. It felt so natural and right that there is no doubt God’s blessing on all of this. I feel strong and at peace. Thanks to God.

We do have a long road ahead. Luke will be starting a therapy that is known to be the most effective for Tourette’s. Please pray that it is for Luke. I want my boy back.

 

 

Voices

C847A552-22B8-4EB4-B816-75161DD88C47Certain people’s voices have a way of calming and carrying away my troubles. It is as though I can feel it on a cellular level. I mean, maybe not that much…or maybe so? Hmm. Yesterday it was my dad’s voice. Somedays it is the last voicemail from my grandma that I cannot seem to erase. I have one of my other grandma from her old work voicemail greeting as well that I cherish. My mom’s voice, my husband’s voice, and my kids voice ignite the same. Last week, my son had to call me from school. The sound of his voice, although I had just seen him a couple hours before, pulled me out of my worries and into a feeling of something I can’t quite describe.

A feeling of something I can’t quite describe. I bet as you read those words, you knew exactly what I meant. I bet you pictured one or more people in your life, past or present, whose voice does the same.

There are many times I have wished to pick up my phone to hear God’s voice in the same manner. I wonder what it would sound like? Strong but yet gentle and soothing, I imagine. What would I say to Him? Better yet, what would He say to me?  I would hope to hear Him simply say, “I love you and keep up the good work.” Yes, that would be enough for me. Those are the words I long to hear from people close to me. (Can you guess one of my love languages?) God designed me as such––to be the type who feels most at peace when I try to keep doing better at whatever it is I am doing in life. Yep, that pretty much sums me up.

So, what simple words would you like to hear from God?

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”

~Matthew 25:23

Never Alone

72A13AF1-A5BF-4F7E-AA64-12407847BA92I felt God as I watched Luke, tired and worn, with his head down walking up to me after school. His arm jerked up to his chest and his opposite leg jerked up immediately after. He glanced around with fear in his eyes. The tics growing ever worse and his anxiety over the fear of people noticing sent a twinge of sadness through every part of me. God was still there though. His loving presence reminded me of the hope we carry in the trials of life.

I heard God through Luke as his fingers danced along the piano keys. Joy traveled from his heart to his fingers to the keys and then to the hearts of all who heard. God was unmistakably there.

I saw God as Oliver listened intently as I explained why Luke struggles with life due to his vision problems, his ADHD, his tics, his anxiety, and all the ripple effects they cause. He nodded, he understood, he cared, and then we prayed. I saw God ever more clearly as I witnessed Oliver caring for his brother the days after our conversation. God stood in the midst of Oliver’s patience, his love, and his words.

Life, our life, is not an easy one…especially as of late. Some days I feel as though I alone carry Luke’s, Oliver’s, Matt’s, and my own weight. I feel alone and unsupported as though I may topple over at any given moment. Then, I cry out. I pick up the phone and hear my mom or dad’s voice. I receive a text from a caring friend. My husband embraces me. My kids smile. I remember that God is there, He is always there. He’s always been there. Through the pain and the joys of our simple little life God alone carries us through. It isn’t me. It never has been. It is God through me and with me. I am never alone. Praise God (insert happy dance)!

The Feet Washers of the World

The old familiar feeling under my fingertips as I type these words has brought with it the peace I have been longing for this past two months since my last post. My apologies ahead of time. I’m sure this one will be full of rambling as my writing brain is a bit rusty. Oh well…

Two months ago, our renovations began in our home and I decided to put my blog on hold as well. It isn’t easy to focus on much of anything other than the chaos that surrounds me. As I look around at the beautiful progress, I know it is all worth it.

I remember the first time I stepped foot in this house. At first glance we saw the 1990’s glaring us in the face with all the beige carpet and brass galore. I walked around the house. Then we walked outside and the beautiful trees pulled me in. I thought of the other houses we had walked through, the other neighborhoods that were bare of any character. It was different here. Every house had its own personality. We stepped back inside and I looked around again. The layout of this house was different than most in this area. I also remembered my childhood and our old wooden boats. The joy of watching them transform into whatever we wanted to make them swept over me. I then pictured what the house could be.

Right now, it is finally becoming what I pictured. It is becoming more than what I pictured. (Insert giddy dance.) We could have sold our home and built a new one. We almost did a year ago. Boy, I’m glad we didn’t. There’s nothing better than taking what you already have and renewing it…

It is funny how the pounding of hammers, the buzz of power tools, and loud talking has become all too familiar. So familiar, I imagine I may feel my house is too quiet once it is all gone. We are nearing the end of the long list of to-dos on the remodeling. Eight weeks have passed without a kitchen. One of our bathrooms has been out-of-order as well. There are random lights without power and I cannot for the life of me remember there is no power in my usual plug-in spot for the central vacuum.

There have been stressful and disappointing moments. We’ve not exactly been pleased with the entire process and have had to speak up on a few different occasions. This has led to an unease in both me and my husband. Neither of us like conflict, nor do we feel it necessary to complain or pick apart a person or his/her work. We like to trust people and we like to trust that they are doing the best they can. What we have learned is that sometimes people cross the line and you have to stand up––and that’s okay.

With that being said, what we have also learned is that behind the people who cross the line are others who are well aware and work hard to make up for it. They are the fixers. They are the ones who assure you the work will be done right. They clean up messes. They go above and beyond what is expected of them. Those are, of course, the type of people who don’t get the credit they deserve. Those are also the type of people I try to point out to my kids as an example of what they should become.

I could care less about my kids being highly educated or wealthy. I try to teach them to aim for more love and the opportunity to serve others. Be the cleaner uppers and fixers. You know, like Jesus, who led by serving others. Yep, I want my boys to want to be feet washers. That is what this world really needs.