Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Loving Through the Pain

9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
This post is for those of us who are living with pain: injuries, disease, disorders, you name it.  Pain stinks!  You know my history - herniated disc in the lower back, two surgeries to fix it, re-herniation, and now more sharp, insistent pain in the low back and down my right leg... again.  It's frustrating and maddening and all-consuming!  When every move you make shoots pain through your body it is hard to think through it.  It's hard to focus on things you need to do because you hurt and your pain recepters are going to make sure you know that you are hurting and they aren't happy.  My question today is: how do I find the love through the pain?

Does that make sense?  Let me try to explain.  When all your brain processes is pain it's very easy to become irritable.  I find that little things will just set me off: toys on the floor, kids knocking my chair, more toys on the floor, someone else knocking me off balance - you get the picture!  Every nerve in my body is on edge right now and it takes so little for one of my beautiful treasures to step right on it and set me off!  Since I can't put myself away in a padded room full of pain relievers, what can I do?  How do I love through this pain? 

First, I have to acknowledge that there is a problem.  I am hurt... again... and need to take steps to make it better.  This means regular Motrin, not sitting too long, icing, and using my "Mini-Masseuse" machine.  Nothing new, but these are activities that eat into time I'd much rather spend doing other things.  This is all a big pain in the rear (literally!) but very necessary.  I can't just sit back and play the victim.  If I want to feel better - and I do - I have to take steps that will help make that happen. 

Second, I have to watch the attitude.  Yes, I hurt and it stinks and it would be great if it would go away, but I also have a family that still needs care and loving even though I don't feel good.  I think my frustration has come from a perceived lack of empathy from the younger girls.  They see me hurting and it translates into an inconvenience for them instead of an opportunity to help.  My struggle right now is to teach a different attitude without just being mean, crazy mom and losing my mind.   If I can learn to look at my situation like Paul did I think I could really do the girls a lot of good.  I can honestly tell you that I have a really hard time looking at this physical weakness as a strength or opportunity for God, but it can be!  If I can take my own thoughts and perceptions out of the equation and focus on how God can be glorified through my situation He will make my weakness a strength!  The question is: can I do it?

Third, I have to keep on track.  This setback can't affect my forward progress.  I still need to write and work on my ongoing projects.  If that means working in snatches as my back allows, that's what I will do.  Yes, it'll stink and it'll wreak havoc with my "Zone" time, but I have to make it work!  I know from experience that the best way to stave off the depression that would love to creep in is to keep myself in God's word and in close communion with Him every day.  My favorite way to do this is writing, so I have to keep it up.  If that means writing for 15 minutes and taking a 5 minute break, that is what I will do.  If that means using paper and a pen while I'm icing and typing later, I'll make that work too!  I can stay on my positive work track and keep my forward momentum if I fully rely on God to get me through this. 

Finally, I have to keep God close.  Having done this same routine a few times before, I know that falling to my knees in front of God and His mighty power is the only thing that will let me love through this pain.  If I have to be weak in order to be strong in Christ I will take it!  I would much rather be strong for Christ and feeble in body than strong in self and weak in Christ!  I know that He is stronger than my weakness and He will carry me through this.  So, how do I love through the pain?  I put my arms around God and let His love radiate through me to those around me.  I can't do it on my own, but if I let Him do the hard part I can't lose! 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Help, My Children Have Lost Their Minds!!

I don't know about you, but here in Maryland our kids still have until June 11 before school is out.  Right now that feels like an eternity to them... and to me!  No one wants to get up in the morning, no one wants to do homework, no one wants to go to school and do anything productive - you get the picture.  They are ready to be done.  Unfortunately we still have 12 days of school left.  12 more days of work.  12 more days of morning crazy before 8 blessed weeks of freedom. 

I find myself in need of some strategies and tools to get us through to June 11.  What can I do differently to help the girls?  How am I contributing to the stress?  How do I stay sane over the next weeks?

I have some ideas on making these last weeks of school more pleasure than pain for all of us:
Make it Special - Tuesday evening the school had a Book Fair that we could visit as a family, so we all piled in the car and went down for some new reading material.  The girls all got to pick some books out and immediately started reading them in the car.  Abby, especially, has been devouring her choices - and she's not a huge reader!  It made me realize that sometimes they need the novelty of a "treat."  Something out of the ordinary that just makes them feel special.  Sure, it cost Charles and I the price of the books, but their enjoyment and appreciation make it worth every penny!  Today I drove them to school - again, not a huge thing, but something that starts their day out special.  Over the next couple of weeks I will try to find different little things that will make their days pass a little easier.

Relax -  I don't know about you, but my May calendar is full!  In the last two weeks I have been at the girls' school for 6 different events.  Add in church functions, friends and family and you have a crazy, busy month!  It's hard enough to manage the family during this wind down time - add in all the field trips, field days, concerts, and activities and you can easily lose your mind!  This is the first weekend we have nothing scheduled and we have declared it off-limits.  Charles and Morgan have plans to conquer the two-wheeler bike, Emily has a date with her roller blades, and Abby is itching to get back on her bike.  Mommy will be on camera detail and we will rest.  We don't take enough time to enjoy being home together as a family, especially during this time of year.  There's so much going on that sucks your family time away, so we will take this weekend to steal it back!

Prioritize - All the hectic rush makes me crazy and rubs off on the girls so they get kind of crazy, too!  It doesn't help anything and just makes us all want to rip at each other, so I'm trying to figure out how to avoid it.  It's time for me to prioritize - what's most important, what can we let go, etc. - and then accept the limits I place.  Why do I continue to think that I can do anything and handle anything?  I have proved over and over again that I have limits - why do I choose to ignore them so often?  My poor family are the ones who suffer because I can't say no.  So I'll keep working on setting my boundaries and sticking to them.  One of these days, with the Lord's help, maybe I will figure it out!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

I'm Proud to be a Nurturing Mom!

I recently read a Time article titled: "Viewpoint: Is Mother's Day Sexist?" The author is concerned with the messages we send this time of year. Why do we thank moms for being nurturing, gentle, and soft when just a month later we thank dads for their strength and good examples? Why can't moms be the role model and dads the nurturers?

Let me share a paragraph from the article with you:
"Of course, there is not a thing wrong with children saying thank you for all those cuddles and comfort, or for expressing gratitude for models of strength and responsibility. These are all lovely sentiments. The question is: why in 2013, are we still dividing all these traits by gender? It’s insulting to both women and men and it has less and less to do with contemporary American families. Dads can be nurturers. Moms can be role models. Many, of course, already are."

Read more:

My answer to this article is NO - Mother's Day is not sexist! I am proud to be a soft place for my children to fall, and I have no problem with my place in their lives. God made me different from Charles, just like he made all men and women different. Does this mean men can't nurture? No, of course not, but it's not the natural instinct of most guys. We thank our dads for their strength, example, and character because these are the things dads should be teaching us. My girls are learning what a man is supposed to be like by watching their father. He is the spiritual leader in our home... and I am perfectly fine with that! Why do we feel the need to steal identity from each other? Why is it undesirable for me to be a woman with womanly traits and characteristics? God has good reasons for what he does and he didn't mess up when he gave each sex different strengths and weaknesses. 

I find it interesting that my womanly traits mix with Charles' manly traits and make a complete set of parents for our girls. How sad is it that we can't celebrate that as a society?  I will spend tomorrow with my family, enjoying time together and celebrating my 11 years as a mom. I will be proud of the fact that I nurture my girls and teach them how to be Godly young women. I encourage you to do the same with your children! Let's send our own message this year - we are proud to be nurturing moms!