Mental Sabbatical in 3….2….1

Somewhere between 1130 pm dinners alone, consisting of edamame or Hershey bars, and midnight baths, I decided round March/Aprilish, that enough was enough. In all of the 39 years I have been blessed to live, I have never seen our family so tired & worn out. To the point that no one of us is even capable of really lifting the others up because we are zombies; just gliding through & through the routines that are supposed to be defining, growing & preparing us……for what? Every step we are taking isn’t a step, it’s a limp which is progressing into a crawl.

I said & have said, ENOUGH, what now? I often love it when people ask me why I am so tired, since I “don’t work”. This deserves as much of a slap in the mouth, as the intellectually challenged who ask me if my toddler daughter’s glasses are real or if I know so & so because they are from AL too, cause the state is just 1 big town I suppose (Derp much?). Now I know many people who have made a lifestyle of staying home & being supported by the government, playing online all day, when they could & should pave their own way; I am not one of these individuals, but thank you for mentally placing me in that end of the pool. Social networking gives some type of false illusion that the only thing(s) you have going on, go up for the world to read. Likely, the case for people who have nothing else to invest in or on, but again not the case here. Just because someone as myself, doesn’t post or inform every detail of where my time, attention, volunteering & focus goes, or my family’s, please do not think it doesn’t exist. I just choose A. not to glorify busy B. not to look for people to feel sorry for us because we’re busy C. no one really gives a crap what we have going on 7 days a week, plus what I do isn’t for man’s approval anyway….. it’s for God. With that said, that’s the answer to why I am tired. Why my family is tired. Because we are. Plain exhausted. 

Now what to do with ENOUGH, since I had/have decided that the line is drawn. Well, here’s the grievous part of ENOUGH. Choices. Faith. Being still. Listening for the answers. Knowing they’re coming & knowing I am not going to like the response. And I was right. You see, this is a home of Type A, energetic, over achievers. Somebody has to dial it down or we are going to be a family full of “regretters”, with missed opportunities & memories. The eval begins: Can Jason step away from any of his endeavors? No, because his many endeavors provide us with income. And his extracurricular endeavors provide him with sanity. What about Chase? No. He’s invested in growing himself into his areas of interest & deserves to have fun & be a teenager. Grace? well she’s 2.5 so she’s pretty much a full time job Me? welp, guess it’s me. I started the prayer/gnashing of teeth/crying/guilt/anger cycle & started stepping down from, tearfully, a very long list of duties & things that have owned my time for several years now. After making these step down deadlines for myself & deciding to rest in Gods plan for me, I have found a great peace in what the summer holds. After that, I know I will approach the fall with a clear, refreshed, discerned, mind, because I decided to submit to Gods will & not my own. His will never, ever fails. Ever.

June 7 at midnight starts my mental sabbatical. Being blessed with a husband who is a teacher, the 4 of us are walking arm in arm into 2 1/2 months of time together. I mean I almost have my heart leap when I think of it. My summer plans include Jesus & time to plug into those deeps areas of Him, family time, travel, rest, eating, laughing, sleeping, crafting, reading the 6 books I’ve been staring down for 8 months, returning phone calls……THAT’S IT. And I am so fine with that. You see I have 2 more summers (God willing) that we all 4 are here at home together, before the oldest tator tot leaves for college & Grace starts kindergarten. Why do I want to junk that up because I feel the need to be busy, to feel accomplished? 

My advice to those of you in the same boat: GET OUT OF THE BOAT & get to land & stop missing moments. You can say no & the world will still spin. Somewhere along the way you became an addict; addicted to & obsessed with, busyness. You thank God for your blessings, but never get a chance to enjoy them. You teach your kids that dinner in the car is normal & dinner at a table is something people did in the 50’s. That more events & more practices & more busy is “good” because it’s perfecting talents. The overdoing of community service & saying yes to everyone is what God calls us to do because it’s sacrifice. You know the drill. But, in actuality it isn’t good at all. It isn’t perfecting anything. And it definitely isn’t Gods calling. You end up with burned out parents, burned out kids eventually & a life where you look back & realize you never enjoyed the day to day. God never intended you to be so busy that you replace your daily time with Him. I mean devoted time in the Word & in prayer. Not a 5 minute list of wants & needs. God never intended you to be so busy that you cannot rest, bathe, eat, do errands, clean your home, laugh, go for a walk…… God never intended you to be so busy that you can’t remember the last time your family did something that didn’t center around an activity or obligation. God never intended the life He blessed you with spent running through it 150 mph, because when you do, you’ve missed the point of EVERYTHING. No thing, no plan, no moments, no time that brings you frustration is part of Gods will for you. You will never have joy & contentment making all the plans & thinking He’s just supposed to show up & supply your needs. John 14:14, highly misunderstood, says, “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it”. God won’t do ANYthing. He will do ANYthing you ask when you pray in the spirit & your will is His will. When you submit every day to asking Him to change the desires of your heart. When you learn how pray His will, He will answer. When you seek WHOLE heartedly, you will find Him every time. But, understand, the things you may be asked to walk away from may be a sacrifice, they may take obedience, but God doesn’t make mistakes. And who doesn’t want more joy, more time & more contentment, more family? I mean isn’t it a given gift? So unclench your hands from whatever you’re holding on to & dragging around & accept better. If you want to continue burying yourself & your family, do everyone else a favor & shut up complaining about it. Stop posting about it on social networks. Get up & change or stay put & roll in it. The same advice I told myself. Now I have decided to listen.

Today I raise my glass to the start of being UNBUSY. Best decision I have made lately. Years from now when my nest is empty, I will look back at this season & be grateful in the core of my soul. Time doesn’t stop for anyone, but we can stop & enjoy the limited time given to us.

I sit down at the table.

My drained empty body has stopped and my soul has caught up and if I give thanks here, who might I recognize? It takes a full twenty minutes after your stomach is full for your brain to register satiation. How long does it take your soul to realize your life is full?  

                                                                                                              (from ann voskamp)

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A Grace Filled Life; Charis

My 1st experience with grace was waiting for me the day I was born. Grace came to me in the form of a very foundational mother figure in my life, my grandmother, rightfully named my Mamaw Grace. She showed me a life full of her grace, until she went to be with Jesus May 1, 1997, 3 months before my son was born. The day she died, so did a piece of my “grace”. 

I’m not sure if I ever truly understood the grace that the Bible speaks about. Often times growing up, there was a whole lotta talking about these things & not a lot of living by it. So needless to say, my walk was a very long, lonely, confusing one, to find a relational God; the grace filled God.

Most who know me, know the journey of my daughter, ironically, yep …..Grace. For those that do not, let me catch you up to speed Cliff Notes style. In 09 I got pregnant. I was pregnant a week. Found out baby was growing in my left tube. Rushed to emergency surgery. Woke up, no more baby, no left tube, etc. Was told by Dr a week later with my age, history of miscarriage & 1 tube & ovary, the likelihood of my having a baby was pretty much non existent. There was like a minuscule percentage. 2mnths later, bam, pregnant with her. I named my son Chase 13 yrs prior because it rhymed with Grace, but told my husband when we didn’t lose her to miscarriage, I would name the baby if we were having a girl. She would be my Grace. Long story even longer, my entire pregnancy was a nightmare. I had something wrong every week. From gushing blood unexplainably to carpal tunnel, to everything under the sun; it was non stop. I jokingly said to my husband midway, God must have spectacular plans for this baby because the devil won’t leave her alone. Little did I know how true that statement was to be.

July 2010, I had taken my son shopping for school supplies. I was 5wks from being due, but for “some reason” had nested really early & felt prompted to shore up all details that would or could, come up when she was born. We got home from Target, I cooked a pizza & went out by the pool to relax. My husband got home soon after. I got up to go inside to greet him. Upon standing up my water broke ALL OVER  the place. My 1st reaction was shock. Then my 2nd reaction was horror. I grabbed my towel & diapered myself. Screaming, I waddled ran into the house & frantically prompted the guys to grab me anything they could because we had to go to the hospital. Pretty much horrific. 7 hrs later Grace was born & God’s grace re-entered my life. 

Her cord had to be cut from her neck. She was an odd grey color & no crying. She stopped breathing & had to be resuscitated. I never even got to hold her, not for FOUR days & my 1st moment lasted 15min. She went straight to the NICU, where we lived, for a month. Leaving her there was the worst experience of my entire life. She was intubated & given oxygen for 10days. We were met daily by specialists & neurologists. We found out she was born with no thyroid. Her condition is rare & the only treatable form of mental retardation. We were told by age 2 we would know how severe her IQ damage was. She had an enlarged liver. She had choking & projectile spitting up issues for almost a year & still has bouts with it. Our 1st year was spent at least 3-4 times a month in somebody’s office being poked on & diagnosed with another issue. We were told she would be developmentally delayed as well. I could continue, because there is more, however I will stop there. There is nothing worse than teams of specialists telling you she can’t/she won’t/prepare for….. But, here’s part 2 of this story, it’s about my God & they didn’t know Him. He said she can & she will. 

Grace’s life changed ours. I cannot place into words the miracles & testimonies & changes over the past, almost 3 yrs, but I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt, It’s ALL God. You just don’t get this many “coincidences”. We were released from all specialists except her endocrinologist by age 1. By age 1-1 1/2 she knew all of her colors, numbers 1-10, identified all alphabet letters & shapes. She was ahead of the curve on everything. By age 2 & currently, she knows numbers up into the hundreds, can actually read you books & will read from things like magazines, my Bible or other materials that she isn’t familiar with. She is ahead in speech & motor skills/development. She is very musically & sports talented. The curve she is on isn’t just advanced for her condition, she’s ahead of normal for her AGE group. And every time we go to those Drs they are amazed. They will bring other Drs to look at her & evaluate her. Her life is & always will be an example, fittingly, of God’s grace. Through her life my son & my husband found a relationship with Christ & within 3 mnths of one another, were saved & baptized. During the interim of those 3 mnths, I rededicated my life & was re-baptized  You see, despite what you think about God & what He allows to happen in tragedy’s dept, God is love. In my case, running away from Him so many times, He will or can use an extreme situation to get your attention in order to place you in a life that you didn’t even know you were missing. 

The greek word used in original Bible text is charis. It means showing kindness. It’s often referred back to God as His basic relationship of favor & kindness to us, His children. You see God doesn’t allow you to experience miracles, where you can’t give Him the glory. My favorite, current day, grace definition came in the form of the following acronym:

                            GGod’s RRiches AAt CChrist’s EExpense

I am still faced with the humility of this experience. We revisit it with every blood draw, every mild sensory issue because of all the needles, every sleep issue, etc is a reminder that we never stop praising Him for Grace…… and grace. I have a box for her, inside are reminders of her journey. I also printed her every Facebook & Email I received during her journey regarding prayer. I always want her to know the love & faith associated with the body of Christ; complete strangers called to pray & believe on her behalf. Still to this day I meet people in ironic ways, that share how they prayed for us. Recently, having the nurse who resuscitated Grace join the Women’s Ministry Class I lead. 

I do want to say something to my daughter & to anyone who’s experienced any journey of faith through their babies. It’s ok to be hurt & be sorry on behalf of what they’ve gone through, but it’s never ok to stay there. I want G to know I am sorry her daddy & I had DNA that mixed & caused her no thyroid. I am sorry that EVERY morning of her life & throughout her life, she starts the day taking a pill & can’t eat or drink for 30 min. & I’ve held her many times unable to explain why she’s starving & I can’t feed her. I am sorry her hands & feet have scars from needles. I am sorry she doesn’t like for people to approach her because she’s scared they’ll poke or stick her & that comes off as rude & unloving to grown ups who should act more grown up. I am sorry I still have to break her crackers in half & cut up her food, while the other kids mom’s look at me bizarre like, because they don’t know she’s a choking risk. I am sorry I couldn’t paint your nails until you were 2. I am sorry that cutting your toe nails ruins an entire day for us. I am sorry you have such a hard time transitioning from one place to the next, I decline play dates. I am sorry that people don’t know loud noises horrify you so I don’t into groups or parties often, because I don’t want you to be “different” or “that kid”. I am sorry some days I can’t help you with your anger & all I can do is hold you & cry with you. I am sorry for what they tell us you are to experience in your teen years with your development & as a woman what they say you will face with fertility, because we already know they aren’t right, but they will still say it to you & plant that seed & I am truly sorry. I am sorry we don’t have more friends to spend time with, but I promise that too will change. I am sorry that I have made you do stuff on your own & not backed down because I want you to never be enabled. I am sorry you get mad at me because of it & call me “the angry king & the grumpy ole troll” <—-after King Herod & the troll from Dora). I am sorry lab work makes us both a crying, hysterical, nauseated mess of nerves. Sweet child, some days I am just SO SORRY. But, in the same moment I am sorry, God will use you to do something so precious or so hysterical, that the sorry gets snuffed out with praise & thanksgiving. 

I am already proud of you. You’ve endured quite the load for almost 3. I think it’s cool that you’re so tough & not the least bit princessy. I think your knock knock jokes are the best, even though you don’t understand punch lines & lose your breathe laughing because you think you said something hilarious. I think it’s only fitting your fave Bible character for the past 3+ months is Queen Esther (pronounced Keen Esstay) what a woman of courage & bravery, like you will be. I think the twinkle in your eyes must be the same as being face to face with an angel. I will never forget how unique your smell is or the shape of your sweet mouth. I think it’s precious that you gave your daddy a piece of time where he can finally know what it feels to look like someone & have the same quirks to identify with. I think watching Chase love on you, protect you & stroke your hair when he thinks no one is looking is THE single most precious thing I have ever seen, ever. I think you are amazing; Our Amazing Grace. God has so much to offer you, never let go of His hand.

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Psalm 139:13-16 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10  Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

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