The Whisper From Within

I pulled my hair back into my usual low messy bun, removed my sunglasses, and peered into the opening of the cave. My hands tightly held my treasured designer sunglasses that hid tired eyes on my busiest days. I remembered the day I bought them and the false sense of accomplishment I felt wearing them. I wanted to rid myself of all of that and so I quickly tossed them into the tall grass behind me.

I stood staring into the never-ending darkness. I took a deep breath and stepped inside. A light sweeping breeze tickled my skin. I heard the whisper, the whisper from within, calling me to continue. It was the same whisper telling me to leave behind my fierce independent ways. It assured me perfection is a weak and fragile state. It reminded me real strength lies in the mess. It lies in being content with your mess and with your limitations.

I was frightened, yet determined. I thought of the steps that led me there. I was in my early twenties. The noise of busyness, the layers of self-made sludge, the wounds of days past had drowned out the whisper. I wanted nothing more than to listen and embrace it once again. I was never meant to live that life. I was meant to live my life. So, one day I stopped. I just stopped, pretty much dropped, and couldn’t move any further into the life I created. A life I worked so hard at maintaining the image of perfection and self-sufficiency. It was then I saw brave was not nonstop trying and doing and living the “good” life. Brave was standing where I was that moment. Brave was stepping inside my own cave.

I took another deep breath and didn’t look back. It felt like the first few moments after jumping into a pool. There was a shocking cold that quickly transformed into a refreshment for my weary soul. My eyes adapted and light appeared. The outside noises soon diminished. I began shoveling through the sludge. I came across my wounds, some I healed and some I simply acknowledged. There was nothing else between me and the whisper from within. It was like a long lost friend I hadn’t seen in years. We embraced and cried and fell right back into the old rhythm of things. I fell back inline and freed myself from the pressures of this world.

There are times, will always be times, I wander outside the bounds of my life. I find my way back to my cave, I do the work all over again. I know that life isn’t real, it isn’t sincere, it isn’t mine. It is built on pressure and duty and pushing past limitations I was never meant to push past. No one is made to do it all, to try it all, to go and go and go until you drown out the voice from within. So just stop and go inside your cave. You won’t regret it. I haven’t.

Oh, I Understand

DSC_0125I understand what it feels like to raise a kid who is “different”. I know what it feels like when others just don’t get it. They nod their head, they listen, but then a minute later something flies out of their mouth that makes you want to scream.

I understand what it feels like to want the world to accommodate your child’s every need. You only want them to have an even playing field. You want their teachers to help them. You want their friends to take it easy on them; to wait for them when they are falling behind or struggling.

I remember how unfair everything felt when Luke was first diagnosed. Heck, there are still times when it feels unfair when I watch my kid struggle. When he tries to pretend he can see so he can just feel “normal” for a moment is a horrible thing to watch. It is horrible. It is a feeling I would not wish upon anyone.

Everyone wants to be able to relate to others and when you have one thing that always gets in your way…something you can never take away…well it sucks.

One day, Luke was with a group of kids and he was talking and laughing with the rest of them. He got right up in one kid’s face as he was talking. The other kid put his hand up and said, “Luke, back up. You’re too close.”

I was so used to Luke getting up in my face, that I failed to even think of how uncomfortable it made others. I started observing. I saw adults backing away from him, I saw kids backing away from him. I saw.

I didn’t say anything to Luke right away because it was hard to think of having to tell my kid to stop doing something that helped him. But then I began to think of the life I wanted for him. I thought of the person I wanted him to become. My parenting became harder and life became more gray.

See, Luke can’t have it all in life. I can’t allow him to do what is best for only him. He must think of others. He must find a healthy balance between trying to see his world better and also seeing the world through other people’s eyes. It is the only way for him or for any of us to share life with others.

To take care of himself and others is what I envision for him. It makes things more complicated. It makes my job harder. The difference I have seen socially since Luke has improved on his personal space issues (and understanding of personal space) shows it is worth it. It doesn’t make it any less heartbreaking to see him struggle, but I know it will make him a better person.

It is worth raising your kid, no matter what the struggle, to simultaneously think of themselves and others. There are times when we teach Luke to think of his needs first. Sit in the front of the class. Use enlarged print. Put sunglasses on when the sun is bothering your eyes. Those are black and white. The gray areas are where other people are involved. Sometimes in the gray, we must choose others. I now know getting in other people’s personal space is not worth the benefit it has for Luke. It is one of the many times he has to learn to accommodate to the world. It is a little less fair, but we all have to do this in life.

Remember, I understand. It is hard to choose others over you own kid. Over someone you love unconditionally. We all deserve to feel normal, but we cannot always take away from other people to do so. Sometimes what is best is to see the gray and choose some middle ground for the sake of others.

My Shield and Thorn

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I love to help people.  It is something deeply rooted, so deeply rooted, I believe it takes up the largest part of my personality. I care for people to the point it hurts.  It’s the thing I cannot change.  It’s the thing I look for in others and cannot understand when they could care less about helping others. How can you not want to help?  

I get frustrated when I see people who refuse to help when it is needed. Those are the times I bite my tongue, those are the times I pray for understanding. Most times, I see the reason why. Sometimes all I see is a hardened (selfish) heart. Then I pray to understand the pain that caused their heart to harden. I pray and even when the understanding doesn’t follow, I tend to let go. It does eat away at me when I cannot see the cause. But, it eats away at me more when I have harsh feelings toward a person.

Does the inability to stay frustrated–the wanting to always see the why behind the negative make me weak?  Maybe it does.  Maybe I am too kind and too sensitive.  I may be one who gets walked over my entire life. The thing is, I accept this “weakness” God has given to me.  I know it is better than holding hate in my heart.  It’s better than always being disappointed in people.

It is a struggle to stand firm in my kindness, knowing it as both a strength and weakness. I will always pray for understanding within myself and within others as well.  I will always hold some doubt and over-think this part of me. Satan will continue to use this against me.  He’s mean like that.

It isn’t always easy and I fail at times to place my trust in God. Despite my stubborn ways, He never fails to bring me back to the truth. My kindness is my shield and my thorn. It is more a beautiful shield, though, in this sometimes ugly world.

What is your shield and thorn?

Caution: Road Block Ahead

imageMy normal twenty-minute trip of taking Oliver to school took me about 45 minutes this morning. Even my alternative route was closed.  So I had to go another way, then another, and another. I got home and made myself a cup of coffee before I took off again to go shopping…by myself. Any parent knows the joy it brings to shop alone. I cannot tell you the frustration I felt when I looked out my window and saw my road was blocked. Yep, I live on the corner of a court with no other way out. I felt trapped and completely ticked.

All I could think of was how the construction is messing with my life and plans.  

I took a few deep breaths and then sat in my favorite chair. My 72 pound lap dog jumped up on my lap and nestled in. Ranger’s drowsy eyes looked up at me before his big wrinkly head landed on my hand. He loudly exhaled and then closed his eyes.  Within a minute he was snoring.

Apparently my dog was quite pleased with the construction that led to my being trapped. I rubbed his head with my free hand and began to relax. I realized I probably needed my dog and favorite chair more than I needed shopping. I began to sip my coffee and my thoughts carried me away.  I wish I could say they carried me away from construction, but it was not so.

It dawned on me how easily we become frustrated with road blocks. Sometimes it is all we think about.  Sometimes it trickles down into every aspect of our lives.

I’m not speaking the literal sense of a road block. I’m sure you’ve already picked up on that, though. You may even be nodding you head and are thinking of a situation in your own life. You are ready to move on. You want to go where you think/know you want/need to go, but you just can’t get there for because of the stinking road block.

Presently, I do not have any major road blocks. At least none I am aware of. But I can recall the ones I’ve had in the past. I remember the frustration. I remember the only if’s. Only if…then my life would be better. I could accomplish more. I could be a better mom, spouse, friend, or whatever. I could be more faithful.  I could be more…

What we fail to see is the significance of the road block. God needs for us to stop so He can do the construction needed within us and around us. He is the one who knows the best path. We need to trust Him when He takes us on unexpected or inconvenient ways.

Amazing how with just a twist of perspective, the meaning of trapped and inconvenienced transforms into our ever-loving God fixing and beautifying us and our path called life.

My One Prayer

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Everyone has that one thing they pray for the most. You may never share this prayer with anyone but Him. You may believe it will never be answered or at least answered the way you want it to be.  But still, you want it so badly you continue to pray and sometimes beg or try to negotiate a deal with God. Sometimes, if you are like me, you will feel guilty for continuously praying for this one thing.  Because you know you are blessed and things could always be worse.  But yet, you cannot help but to relentlessly pray for it.

My prayer is for my oldest son, Luke, who has Ocular Albinism. I don’t pray for God to take his Ocular Albinism away.  I do pray for his future and his ability to adapt to this world.  I pray people are kind to him because of his difficulties. I pray he one day falls in love and marries a girl who is strongly rooted in God.  I pray for his future children.

My one prayer, though, is that one day his visual acuity will be enough for him to get a driver’s license. At the end of the day, I know the above prayers should have more priority. I just cannot help it. I want my son to be able to drive. It is my one selfish prayer. I want to one day hand him the keys to my car…or to Matt’s car and say don’t be home too late with tears streaming down my face.  I want to see him roll his eyes and say, “I’ll be fine, Mom. I’m just driving down the street.”  I want Matt to place his hand on my shoulder as he says, “Luke will be just fine”.  That is what I want.

Today, driving home from Luke’s eye doctor appointment, I cried a little like I always do. This time, for the first time, the tears were filled with fragments of hope.  Not a lot of hope, but just enough for me to exhale a sigh of relief. Every single appointment, even the first appointment where Luke was diagnosed, the doctor has mentioned that Luke will probably never be able to drive. It is something he knows bothers parents. He always says he doesn’t want to give parents false hope.  I respect that about him.  It can’t be easy. Today was different. Luke’s vision has improved some. He said it is quite possible Luke’s vision will improve enough where he could possibly be able to get a driver’s license.

It took me about ten minutes to process that. In the parking lot after Matt and I got the kids in the car, he pulled me in for a hug.  Yes, I thought, he really did say what I thought he said. It was the first time I left that place without a knot in my stomach. I explained it to Luke when we got home and we talked a bit about his eye disorder. I had never spoken that in depth about it with him. I felt it was time and at the end I was able to give him a little hope. His reaction told me it was the right time.

Hope and possibility are worth holding tightly to, even when there is still a chance things may not end up to your liking. Sometimes all we have in this life is a little hope. A little hope has to be enough.  It is enough for me.  Thank you, Lord.

 

To Stay Afloat

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I have always wanted to buy an old house to fix  up.  Old houses have character that a newer house cannot compete with.  That probably will never happen, but a girl can dream, you know. It isn’t just houses, anything old excites me.  I don’t know how to describe it.  I think it started as a child.  We lived in this old farmhouse. I remember the creaky wooden steps. I remember the floors, the cabinets, the built in shelves, the scary basement. I remember the old barns we would explore and play in.  I remember all the little details that most people would overlook.

My love for old things carried on through the years.  I blame mostly my dad for this love of old things. He would buy wooden boats.  We would spend the winter fixing them up. It was hard work.  Me being the smallest, I was always given the job of climbing down by the engine.  I had to pull out the leaves and whatever else was down there.  I don’t miss that part.  My favorite part was redoing the cabin.  Sanding, staining, and varnishing the wood was fun to me.  I felt as though it was our living room of the boat. I am all about making things feel comfortable. My brothers were more into the exterior part. The things that made the boat float.  My dad taught us how to work hard.  Our boats showed us, literally, how hard work pays off.  Putting the boat in the water for the first time and wondering if it will stay afloat.  When it did…aah…what an amazing feeling!

I think of life much like I do of old wooden boats.  You need to put work into it to stay afloat.  Think about a time when you let things go.  Those cracks in whatever area of life you let go start holding in water and then eventually you feel as though you are sinking. You grab your bucket and start throwing the water out, but the water keeps filling back up. What you really need to do is fix the cracks.  In order to do that, you may need to pull your boat out of water.  Sometimes all you need to use is a sealant. Other times you need replace some of the wood as well.

Spiritual life is the same.  I think that is where many people get confused.  You don’t need to earn your salvation. Jesus did the work for you. But you do need to do some work if you want your faith to grow. What happens when you fall out of prayer and you slide away from reading His word? You will start sinking right back into the world and worldly thinking.

We need to protect ourselves from the exterior things that wear us down and we need to protect ourselves from the things (sin) within ourselves as well. As christians we need to continuously seal and repair our cracks so we can stay afloat. The more afloat we become, the more we can help others stay afloat and see the love of Christ.

Reminder

This morning was one of those not so fun mornings all parents experience. I woke up realizing today was the day Luke needed his costume for a Spanish video. I thought I had another day to find the top. I felt horrible! (I did end up finding it.) Then, Oliver colored his entire body with marker to get into whatever character he was trying to be and of course we all needed to get ready and so on. Five minutes before Luke needed to be at the bus stop, he opened up his art kit. I told him he needed to get out the door and he wouldn’t listen. Anyway, he came over to me with a marker, grabbed my hand and did this. “Mommy, I think you need this reminder today.” He gave me a hug and left for school.

Life will never be perfect and we will never be perfect. In those not so great moments we need to take a deep breath and remember His love and sacrifice on the cross. Thanks for the reminder, Luke!
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