Friday, October 29, 2010

I was trying to write a story but you didn't want to see it

I've had an off day. Once I was done with my responsibilities of schooling and dinner, I shut the world out and hid my nose in a book. That usually leads me to a place of having my head in the clouds. I just feel a little removed from my reality, lost in the characters of the story I was reading.

After finishing my third book in two days, I wander out the the living room to help Teddy with my two oldest children, who have a touch of insomnia tonight. I figure I'll check my email and hit the sack. Of course, I get caught up reading blogs and listening to this new artist and then there's Facebook! Well, that's usually the times that great thoughts come upon me, or that I hear God speak to me (well, when He and I were talking regularly).

First off, I'm listening to a local artist, Justin Klump. His music is fantastic! Soothing and real. Ironically, I've known of him for years because we used to be very good friends with his brother, Aaron, who actually sang in our wedding! Our first kitten as a married couple was received from Justin's family, and we are linked in a few other ways through common people and such. Rabbit trail, sorry. So I'm sitting here listening to his soothing music, and I open an email from the mother of an old friend, in response to my blog. This woman is someone whose opinion has always meant a lot to me. I felt honored that she would read my words, respond to me, and pray for me. The email ushered in some moments tonight of crying, of more thinking, of remembering, of wishing.

In her email, she included some pictures that, oddly enough, she found the day after reading my blog. They were pictures of Teddy and I and a friend, on September 11, 1994. That was the day we got baptized. As this gently emotive music was playing, I stared at these pictures, at my young 19-year-old face. I remember the hope I had for this future I would have...the vision I had of what type of Godly woman I would be. What kind of life I would have, what my journey would look like, how I would serve. And I realized part of my problem right now is that, honestly, I'm grieving. I lost that hope. That future that I had banked on never came to pass, and it hurts. I can't turn back and make it happen. I can't undo what's been done. The pictures make me smile and feel introspective, and I'm so very grateful to her for sending them to me. But it also hurts to see my joyful face and to know that I am not that girl anymore. I think it's good, because it's helping me clean out some emotional places I haven't been able to reach previously.

But what was interesting to me as I was sitting here, crying and staring at the pictures and re-reading her great words of encouragement, was how this soundtrack of Justin Klump behind me fit into my situation. Oddly enough, the song I was listening to is titled "Madeline". Just at a point where I muttered the oft-said words of late, "Lord, I'm listening", the song said "I was trying to write a story but you didn't want to see it." Hmm...hit me a little close to home, a thought to ponder...what story has God been trying to write that I don't want to see? Then he sings, "The poetry is gone, you wrote all the music to someone else's song." That summed up how I feel. My poetry is gone and I used all my music on some other version of ME's song.

Anyway, I don't have any great wrap-up or epiphany for this experience. It is what it is and that's all. But I am grateful that in the midst of my seeking, I am being reminded that I am being pursued. And that even in the midst of this great storm of bitterness that has seized my heart, I can still see the beauty of hope and joy in those pictures of me, so many years ago, even if I just can't connect with it right now. I am thankful for that tonight.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Lessons on Forgiveness

As I've shared before, I am traveling on a journey in regards to my faith. Lately, I've been at a crossroads. I either do some things I don't want to do, or I maintain my status as "stalled" in this journey. In order to do the things I don't want to, I must start talking to God again. Oh, and forgive. That pesky idea of forgiveness just won't leave me alone, will it? So, to help me on this path, my friend Jan invited me into a Bible study she's facilitating. Guess what we're studying? Forgiveness. We are currently reading about Joseph and his relationship with God as well as his route to forgiveness with his brothers. During our study last week, Jan brought up Jonah and the whale, in relation to my situation. So, I've been studying Jonah, and the whole issue of forgiveness in general, this week and have learned quite a bit. Being the verbal processor that I am, I must share what I'm learning in order to truly feel like I'm understanding it. So I commence.

I've read all these different viewpoints of what forgiveness is and how to do it, and more importantly, why we should do it. The main points standing out to me right at this moment are:
  1. If we don't forgive, we eventually become bitter. I feel like I can't let go of that bitterness until my offender knows what they did wrong to me and apologizes, or even has to "pay" for it. But guess what? In most cases, our offenders don't give a damn. Or don't know, and if they did know, still wouldn't give a damn. So, who really is that bitterness hurting? That's right. Me. The one holding onto the bitterness.
  2. Bitterness causes many bad things to happen, not just to me but to those around me. As a result of my bitterness, I have become untrustful (that's also partly because people I trusted backstabbed me, and also because I felt like God didn't have my back either). I have also become negative, withdrawn, depressed more than usual, provoked to anger more easily, unloving toward my husband who I felt also didn't have my back. I have stopped enjoying church, and don't go if I don't have to. My kids no longer memorize scripture and we no longer resemble a Christian household for most purposes. We don't really talk about Christ and we don't pray like we used to. And I've been in situations where I've had to lie about my feelings, or else tell them truths that may turn them away from what I want them so badly to believe better than I do. We have all suffered from my hurt and from my unforgiveness. I don't trust other Christians. I also no longer take communion. All because I'm bitter at God and some of His people that hurt me deeper than I've ever been hurt before. And they don't even know or care. So I circle back to...who is this bitterness hurting, me or my offenders?
  3. Unforgiveness is a sin. We are commanded to forgive and to trust God to see to the justice part of our lives. Hard to do when I don't trust God. Hard to care about my sin when I don't see the people who hurt me paying for THEIR sin. Hard to do when I feel hatred toward those people (oh, and isn't that actually akin to murder?) Arrgh. This is where we circle back I love Jesus? (Yes.) Do I want to let go of all this? (Sorta. Mostly. Okay, YES!) Do I want to have fellowship with God again? (Yes. But not the God I thought I knew. I want the real God. The one who preaches more Love than Judgement, more Grace than Law, more Forgiveness than Unforg...wait, what?? Oh....) Yes, that's right. I want what I won't give. Hmm...thinking on that one.
I have more I could discuss; however, my brain is hurting. But my decisions I feel I have upon me tonight are deep. Did I ever really love Jesus? Did I ever really know Him?If not, do I want to? And if I did or want to, am I willing to obey and let go of my bitterness and trust Him to use whatever my situation is or was to bring about His glory and His plan? And if so, and if I want to be forgiven for my own sin and my own unbelief and all that pish-posh, am I willing to start the forgiveness process in my own life? Because it really just starts with a decision to do it, right? Things can fall into place after that, and it's a daily process, but really, I just have to say,"Okay, let's do this." So...hmm. Thinking. For me, tonight, it comes down to trust. Whom do I trust for my freedom?

My final question, posed to you handful that actually read my musings, is this. For years, I have felt that my forgiveness can only truly be worked through if I let the other person know. In some cases, it's because I too feel like perhaps I should apologize for a few things as well as let the person know I was hurt. But in others, it's because the justice seeker in me feels that it is so unfair that some people go through life without knowing that they have offended another person. I think I know the answer to this one, but what say you, oh unbiased jury? Let them know or not?

I leave with this quote, as I go to ponder on my findings and make big decisions.

"We attach our feelings to the moment when we were hurt, endowing it with immortality. And we let it assault us every time it comes to mind. It travels with us, sleeps with us, hovers over us while we make love, and broods over us while we die. Our hate does not even have the decency to die when those we hate die--for it is a parasite sucking OUR blood, not theirs. There is only one remedy for it. [forgiveness]

"All the years you have waited for them to "make it up to you" and all the energy you expended trying to make them change (or make them pay) kept the old wounds from healing and gave pain from the past free rein to shape and even damage your life. And still they may not have changed. Nothing you have done has made them change. Indeed, they may never change. Inner peace is found by changing yourself, not the people who hurt you. And you change yourself for yourself, for the joy, serenity, peace of mind, understanding, compassion, laughter, and bright future that you get."

Lewis B. Smedes - The Art of Forgiving: When You Need To Forgive And Don't Know How

Monday, October 25, 2010

Too many subjects to write on

As a writer, I've always had problems narrowing down my subject. Blogging is no different. At multiple times throughout the day, I'll think, "Oh, I'm going to blog about that!" and then I don't. By the time I sit down to actually write, I've either forgotten all those ideas, or I've got too many and I just go with "I'll do it later." Later never comes.

So tonight, I sit here in front of the fire, ready to try to peruse 5 new books on nutrition. Nutrition, poop, schooling and money have been on the forefront of my mind lately.

So that's all I got for you tonight. Any good nutrition or cookbooks on healthy eating that any of YOU like?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Overdue update on the children...

Ben has had a rough week. I have had a rough week. We have been rough on each other. Homeschooling the past 5 years has been rough. Ben's been a rough kid to parent since he was 1 year old. I've been a rough parent to have since he was 1 year old. See a pattern here? Times have been rough.

I put out a call for help on Facebook this week, and got some great advice. Some of the advice were things I've tried before, or things we've always done, or things that would never work for Ben. But still, I appreciate the willingness of people to just share their hearts and thoughts with me, and knowing that others out there struggle alongside us. That being said, my first plan of action is to make very clear the boundaries we have in this home, and commit to them. Secondly, I will not emotionally react to him. Third, we are overhauling our nutrition. And finally, which really should be first, I'm doing some deep talking with God (whom I have kind of been giving the cold shoulder to lately, due to some personal issues--blog post for another time). I figure that right now, God maybe doesn't want to hear from me about me, but maybe He'll listen when it comes to my son.

And, speaking of nutrition...our overhaul should help Miss Sophia too. Finally, after about 2 weeks of tummy issues, I got her in today to the same day clinic and thankfully, it was a pediatrician who saw her. After checking her pee (negative for UTI) and doing an abdomen x-ray, it was determined that she is severely constipated, with it mostly sitting in the left side of her descending colon. I know, what is it with my family and poo? Ben and Soph take after Aunt Heidi with the constipation route, Madeleine and I take after my side of the family with the IBS route, and Teddy...well, I don't have permission to share on his issues, but I think it's safe to say he's fairly normal. :)

Anyway, the doctor prescribed 2 enemas 12 hours apart, and a month long regime of stool softener. Poor Soph...she's been fretting all day, knowing that Momma has to do this dumb enema (and I think I should be honest here and say my tummy hasn't felt so good thinking about's been 7 years since I last did one, and that was on a geriatric patient). So, from the time we leave the doctor's office, to about 9:30 tonight, she ends up going poo about 4 times. I figure there's no way I'm doing this if she's going on her own. We must avoid the trauma! I call one of my very best friends in the whole wide world who also happens to be a nurse (Tonya) and she says do it anyway, and we both agree on why it should still be done. But the poo is still coming. Eww. So, I call the on-call doctor, because I really want someone official to tell me I don't have to do it. She agrees that we should wait until morning to see what happens with this bout of diarrhea. I TOTALLY agree! I mean, yeah, I was ABSOLUTELY worried about her electrolytes and dehydration and all that. Really, I was. After she mentioned that and I realized a better mom would have thought of that BEFORE she thought of her uncomfortable feelings and poo leakage on her good towels.

So, that is where we sit. I was glad to hear a doctor affirm my position, that Sophia's tummy aches and constipation issues are NOT the same as Ben and Madeleine's, because of her appendix drama. I was also glad that something was wrong and we could fix it, as opposed to nothing being wrong and so we don't know how to make her feel better.

And I'm totally glad that I have friends and family who will pray for me and my kids, share with me, and love me (tantrums and all); and I'm glad that I have friends and family who will read this and say, "Really Stacie? An entry about poop? Isn't that a little much?" But you will still love me, because try as I might, I just don't know how to be anything but transparent and real. I mean, everybody poops, right? I'm just sayin'...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Today's thoughts to chew on

I read a lot of blogs by women who have either left their faith completely, or changed their faith journey to a different direction, because of spiritual abuse. Most of them are leaving the Quiverfull movement. Some are different types of spiritual abuse. Very interesting reading, which can spark some heated conversations. Anyway, here is a link to a blog entry today by one of my favorite blogs to read. This entry has so much in it I want to comment on, so much I agree with, and so much I just want to sit and think about. Before I share any of my thoughts, though, I wanted to share it with y'all and see what thoughts are swirling in your mind?

Oh, and an update on Madeleine will be coming soon. She's fine. The update is being combined with some info to share on Soph and Ben, and it all kind of relates. So I thought I'd do it all in one entry!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Update on Madeleine

Yesterday was a long day, driving to Portland then to Salmon Creek, with a few stops in between. It wasn't, however, an awful day and for that I'm thankful!

We got to Madeleine's endo appointment at Legacy Emmanuel Children's Hospital 30 minutes early, and surprisingly, they called us in within 5 minutes of arriving! After meeting with her doctor, the consensus is....SHE'S NORMAL! Kind of. Her height dropped from 10% to 3%, but her doctor said that her puberty signs she's showing are early, early signs and mixed with her slow down in growth, is typical of a body that's gearing up to have a growth spurt. YAY!!! She said that Madeleine is still a "late bloomer" and to not expect any "womanly" type events for a couple years still (translation: she has at least 2 years to grow another foot!) Also, it was nice to be validated in my opinion of Madeleine's regular doctor...our endo muttered, "I wish these doctors would read up on puberty and get their facts straight!" As much as we liked Madeleine's new PCP at first, I think it might be time for another change once we get through this "fatigue" issue.

Which brings me to the next appointment. After feeding my relieved daughter at SlappyCakes in the Belmont Neighborhood, near Peacock Lane (which we loved, but know is NOT worth the cost), then unsuccessfully hunting high and low for cheap tap shoes...after all this, we finally made our way to Legacy Salmon Creek Hospital. Here we were told they were running behind. Then we were told they had no record of her appointment. Then they said, "EKG? Not EEG?" All I could do was repeat what I had been told by our doctor's nurse, the EKG scheduler, and the check-in lady downstairs. Finally, they brought her in for an EKG, which just as she's set up, a guy comes in and says, "Is this Madeleine? I have her scheduled for an EEG with me!" WHAT??? Seriously. I don't care what they do, just check my kid's heart and let us get on with our day!!!!

No really, it turned out okay. The people were so kind and they did her EKG really quick, just in case it was ordered. Then we went in for her EEG with a super nice guy, who talked her through everything she was seeing on the screen and talked about the heart, how it starts beating at 24 days post-conception and what a gift that is. Here's the cool part....we saw her heart on the ultrasound and it was the COOLEST THING EVER!!!! I saw all the chambers and valves; saw it from above and below and sideways; saw up close images of her aorta; and saw an image of her heart that looked just like what we see in anatomy books, except black and white. So, so cool! I kept looking for defects with my untrained eye, and thinking about the first time I saw her heart.

It was on ultrasound, around week 12 of my pregnancy, this little dot beating, representing hope to me. After miscarriages and infertility, the beating dot said, "This is a healthy baby. You really are pregnant. You are a mommy." So I tried to hold onto that hope yesterday, while looking at her seemingly healthy heart. "She is a healthy baby. You are a mommy and your baby is going to be just fine." Finding something wrong would be nice, because then we'd have an answer to her issues. But I'd rather have phantom fainting spells and lots of sleeping over my baby having a heart defect. At any rate, we're supposed to hear the results today, which means really, we''ll be calling the doctor Monday, wondering if there is any news. I'm sure they would call if something was wrong, so I'm not too concerned.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Madeleine, my most marvelous miracle

Tomorrow is a big day for my Miss Madeleine. For those of you not familiar with her story, a quick update...

She is short. About the size of an 8 year old, even though she's almost 12. Now, we are not extremely tall people, but still....she has almost a foot to grow to be my height, which I hit at age 12. So this year, we have spent some time with specialists. Her endocrinologist at Emmanuel Children's Hospital said back in May that she's fine, just a late bloomer, and as long as symptom A, B, or C don't appear, then we don't need to see her until December. Well, guess what? Symptom A and C appeared. So they got us in as quickly as possible and that is tomorrow morning. We will find out if in fact we need to be concerned or if she's still just normal. (Who wants to be normal anyway? That's so boring!) Anyway, Madz is a little nervous and while she doesn't like being shorter than normal, she also doesn't like the idea of HGC shots for the next 6 years. The idea of puberty grosses her out too. So the poor girl could use some prayer and good thoughts!

Then, tomorrow afternoon, she is seeing a heart specialist. First she will have an EKG, then we will either see the specialist right away, or they will call us later on. She began having extreme dizziness about 4 months ago, which led to near fainting spells. Then she began to complain of extreme fatigue, some heart flutters, lack of appetite, loss of a bit of weight, she's very pale and has dark shadows under her eyes (worse than usual for her), and sometimes finds herself disoriented. The doctor thought we should rule out any heart issues, since her blood work came back normal. If the EKG is fine, then we know we need to try a different nutrition route and maybe get more than 10 hours of sleep a night...but 10 hours is a lot for an almost 12 year old! We know the EKG won't hurt and she's not nervous about it. She wants to know what's wrong, at the same time as hoping that nothing is wrong.

My gut feeling is she's fine on both accounts. I'm very at peace about the whole thing. Which, to some degree, is what concerns me. I was very at peace when Soph was sick a year ago, and she ended up with a ruptured appendix, near death. So I always worry that when I am calm, it's God's way of preparing me for bad news, so I can be strong for my kids. Either way, I'll take it, but my heart's desire is to have healthy kids. And gosh darn it...this hasn't been our year on the health front. :(

Anyway, prayers and supportive thoughts would all be appreciated (I know some of my lovely friends aren't of the praying persuasion, so I'll take your kind and loving thoughts as well). Updates will be posted!!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Waiting on that A-ha moment

I've joined a new bible study group, on forgiveness. It's the first bible study group I've been in for awhile. Why? That's a post for another time.

I'm not too far into it, so I am still waiting for a big "a-ha" moment that I usually get when doing any kind of study like this. It'll come, I'm sure. For now, I'm just focusing on what it means to BE forgiven, as well as to forgive.

Here's the thing about forgiveness. I have a LOT to forgive (don't we all?) But it seems like the last 5 years especially have given me a lot of opportunity to forgive. Lately, instead of waking up each day and thinking, "I'm going to keep on keepin' on and try to forgive today!"...I hold it all inside. For about the last year now. I've stopped crying a lot like I used to. I've stopped caring as much. Haven't read my bible or prayed or gone to church as much as I usually do. I've become hardened. Like the unforgiveness and anger is molding me from the inside out.

So, what to do? Let it go, I know. I'm inching towards that goal, but right now I'm ignoring it.

I wonder what I'm afraid of, why I won't let the pain and anger and unforgiveness go? I think I'm waiting for that "a-ha" moment to force me to let it go; that
ZEN moment (for lack of a better term), that point at which I can say, "I am one with the forgiveness, and I no longer care." Maybe forgiveness is an act of not caring, as opposed to letting go? Either I sit, reading about Joseph and the awful things his brothers did to him, waiting for my moment.

Friday, October 1, 2010

I'm doing this in earnest this time!

I mean it! I'm going to keep my blog up, even if what I have to say is controversial or boring. So, to kick off my re-launch, I will let the world out there know that my name is Stacie and I am an addict. Addict? Uh-oh...she's really starting with a bang, being transparent and all!

My addiction isn't a bad one, necessarily. I am addicted to reading. Have been my whole life. I know some of you out there would scoff at my literary choices. You see, I'm not a fan of the classics. I've read some, and even been changed by some of them. But I love everyday fiction the most. I know...I've found many circles of people that disclude me because I am not a deep reader by their standards. However, I love stories that tell of everyday people going through everyday challenges...the husband who leaves the wife, the child with autism, the sisters that don't get along...because most of the time, these stories end in a reconciliation of sorts. These stories have characters in them that might have a glimpse of someone that I know or will meet. So it's not that I don't want to enjoy classic literature, or read only non-fiction in hopes that my knowledge base increases...I just like to read stories that center around relationship in the here and now.

With that in mind, I will share my list. I began a list this summer of all the books I read, from May to September, just to have a record of my addiction. Also, my psychologist once accused me of being a liar because I told him I read at least 10 books a month. This proves my truth telling (so neener neener, Mr. Head Doctor). And I admit...I am not immune to reading a trashy novel once in awhile, when I don't really want to delve deep into a plot or character, but need a quick respite from real life. Don't judge. :) Starred books are ones I highly recommend.

The Last Summer (of you and me)-Ann Brashares
Back When We Were GrownUps-Anne Tyler
Look Again-Lisa Scottoline
*The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes-Diane Chamberlain
Saturday Morning-Lauraine Snelling
Noah's Compass-Anne Tyler
A Change in Altitude-Anne Tyler
*The Wednesday Sisters-Meg Waite Clayton
Stepping Into Sunlight-Sharon Hinck
South Bound-Susan Rebecca White
The Haunted Rectory-Katherine Valentine
*Secrets She Left Behind-Diane Chamberlain
*Sarah's Key-Tatiana De Rosnay
The Amateur Marriage-Anne Tyler
A Patchwork Planet-Anne Tyler
The Accidental Tourist-Anne Tyler (only read 1/4 of this)
*Digging To America-Anne Tyler
Dear John-Nicholas Sparks
Nights in Rodanthe-Nicholas Sparks
Wraith-Phaedra Weldon
Once in a Blue Moon-Leanna Ellis
Picture Perfect-Jodi Picoult
Still Alice-Lisa Genova
Her Fearful Symmetry-Audrey Niffenegger
*Belong to Me--Marisa de los Santos (one of the best contemporary fiction novels I've read in a long time)
Take Four-Karen Kingsbury
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (re-read)
Twilight (re-read)
7 science fiction type books that aren't worth mentioning
6 trashy romance novels
I re-read the first Harry Potter and Twilight

I'll answer some common questions: I don't sleep much, my house is NOT spotless, my children are NOT neglected, and we still get school done (most days). I read in the car, on the toilet, while Teddy is watching a movie...whenever I can.

So that's it. Just thought this was all share worthy, and a good kick-off to faithfully reading my blog that really no one reads.

Now, I'm off to read!!