Rest

I’m a skilled sleeper.  I have been known to fall asleep in movies, concerts, once in a comedy show, and regularly in my son’s bed when laying down with him “for just a minute.”  In college I’d rather go to bed early than go out most of the time, and it’s even more true now.

But rest… rest is an entirely different thing.  And I’m not good at it.

Rest is about refreshing, recharging, healing.  It’s about quieting and just being.

And I don’t know how to do that.  I must check my email, social media, text messages, etc.  I must be doing something productive to feel the time is worthwhile, or at the very least be doing something.

But rest and laziness are not the same, as rest has true value in itself.

This week, Michael is back in the hospital after about a month of being ill, with the past week quite bad.  I told him many times that not being able to participate in things they way he wants to and should be able to doesn’t make him any less valuable or loved.  Because his body needs the rest, and when pushed only punishes him.  Though he hates it, he’s now to the point where we have to force rest, because the only other option is terrible nausea and constant vomiting.  There are a lot of meds forcing it, giving it time to get past this episode.

I’ve made the decision in the past few days to let this be a season of more rest for me too.  I’m not sure all that entails, but I’m praying about it, because my natural inclination is to try to do it all.  Some projects need to fall by the wayside, for now at least, to free my mind for rest, which can lead to wonderful things.  And closer relationships with those who matter most- God, our family and our friends.

Do you push so hard that you never rest?  Have you asked yourself why, or planned when it will slow enough that you get that much needed rest?

God can reach us through the unrest, but it’s sometimes so much easier to hear Him when we rest.

rest

Christmas Gifts

The stockings are hung, the presents are wrapped, the goodies are baked.  We’ve rehearsed our Christmas Eve KidStuf show, decorated for the Christmas Eve candlelight service, watched the favorite Christmas classics, and even cleaned the house.  We’ve bought the last minute presents and should be sitting back relaxing and enjoying it.

But I’m on day two of migraines and getting enough relief to barely function but nothing more.  And Michael is on week three of an episode that hasn’t landed him in the hospital but has made me contemplate the need for it many times.  So just like usual, I’m feeling a bit sorry for us, and mostly for him.  He should be able to enjoy this season, but we’re here once again and he’s struggling with the emotional battlefield that creates.

But God keeps sending us these small surprises that help keep us going, and remind me that we’re not forgotten.

First, there was this gift.

As I dug through my wrapping paper supplies, which includes old Christmas cards that I use as tags, I saw handwriting that I hadn’t seen in years.  6 1/2 years actually.

Austin’s last Christmas with us we made quite a few sweet memories.  One of them was him helping me with Michael’s Christmas gift.  Austin was a computer whiz, and I asked him to set up and configure the new laptop that he’d helped me find.  He met me at Panera and we drank coffee while he worked on it, to make sure Michael didn’t see.  He then bought a warranty to go with it as Michael’s gift, and what I found was his handwritten note saying that he’d bought him a warranty.

It’s the kind of thing I’d normally throw away, and I’m not sure why I kept it.  I’m not sure how it sat in that box of supplies for so long without me seeing it either.  But as I sat wrapping presents this year, with Michael asleep near me, and me hoping for a miracle for him this year, I got a small one of my own.  A reminder of my brother and of the love he had for us.

Later that night, last night, another completely unexpected gift was given.

A small company, UnMarketing, who says to ‘Stop Marketing, Start Engaging’ did just that through granting items from wish lists for a fairly large group of people.  They asked you to send them Amazon wish lists, and they’d be selecting some people to pick an item off the list and send it.  No questions, no fuss, no contest.  They didn’t make you share it to win it, or like them on Facebook, or fill out an application.

Within 10 minutes, two items off of Michael’s Christmas list were ordered and a personal note sent about why the man behind this chose those- he didn’t just throw money (which was cool enough on it’s own) but he took time to connect.  They weren’t high ticket items, but they’re items that he’ll love.

And with those two gifts, I’m reminded….

We’re loved, we’re taken care of, we’re not forgotten.

I wish I didn’t have to write a post like this every year- that I didn’t struggle with balancing the great and true Joy of the God we’re celebrating and the kids who have my heart with the heartache of this illness and my brother being missing.  I often feel like I’ve said as much as I can say on these topics, and have nothing more to give.

But maybe, you’re like me and facing the same things year after year and needing the reminder that just because you are doesn’t mean you’re forgotten, or unloved.

He loves us more than we can know, which is after all why we have Christmas to celebrate.

Merry Christmas my friends.

 

Christmas 2009

Christmas 2009

 

Traditions

I’ve been gone.  I know you missed me. {despite your silence that would say otherwise.  no hard feelings.}

Every now and then I disappear because I can’t figure out how to write about what’s going on, but every now and then I just give myself permission to take care of what’s going on around me without worrying about sharing it, or enjoy some time without then writing.  That’s what this was- and I find that after I take a short break, I’m grateful to get back and have the chance to share.  Sometimes I write because I’m ‘supposed’ to, much like I do many things in life because I’m ‘supposed’ to.

Especially at Christmastime, when traditions are everything.

We have to decorate and shop and sing and watch movies and make cocoa and visit Santa and make lists and look at lights and make cookies and visit friends and send cards and host parties and volunteer and take photos and and and and…. Oh, and then there’s Ben’s birthday right in the middle and there’s a whole list of must do’s there too, to make sure his birthday isn’t overshadowed.

I LOVE all those things.  But when they become more about checking off a list and making sure we do all the things than about enjoying the things we do, we’ve put tradition over what we’re really meant to get from it.

And this year, once again, I started stressing about what I hadn’t yet checked off that list and when I would.  But then, one of my best friend’s brother died very unexpectedly and I only cared that week about what she was feeling.  And then I got knocked on my butt by a bad cold and days of migraine.  And then I realized that my husband was slowing down and that we were probably entering the pre-phase of a an episode of his chronic illness.  And when I asked friends about what they consider must do’s so I could alter my list, a good friend called bullsh!t and said that nothing was a must do.  She’s a genius.

So, I switched gears and am really trying to focus on simply enjoying what we are able to do.

It’s not as much as I’d like.  I’d always like to do more.

But yesterday, on my youngest son’s birthday as I worried that it hadn’t been magical enough a day, he reminded me again.

Me:  Ben, what do you want to do tonight for the last part of your birthday celebration?

Ben:  Watch Diego and play with my new toys. 

Me:  But I thought we’d go look at lights and get hot chocolate, or …. You really just want to stay home and play?

Ben:  Yep.

Me:  But did you have a happy birthday?

Ben:  Yes!

So we stayed home, ate ice cream and played.

Yes, in my ideal world my husband would be full of energy and able to fully participate, and every day would be full of lifetime worthy memories.

But maybe just enjoying what we do, whatever that is, and being together makes the best tradition.

Do you have a checklist and must do’s, or do you just enjoy what comes?  I’m not sure I’ll ever drop the list without being reminded, it’s my nature.  But I’m trying to learn.

 

minnie

one of the memories we did make- Ben kissing Minnie!

 

It’s No Marathon

I. am. tired. It’s been a long few days. But I’m boarding a plane, that will take me to another plane, that will take me to another plane, that will take me home. And then I’ll rest. So I can get through the next 11 hours, thinking about that.

I wish I could see the place and time of rest ahead in other aspects of my life. I see no end to Michael’s battle with CVS, though there is hope of a breakthrough one day or a medication that helps. I see no end to our search for Austin, though there is hope of a search with results or maybe even a call with his voice one day.

I sometimes wish Michael had an illness with more risk but more possibility of cure. I sometimes wish we could have a funeral for Austin, with not the answers we wanted but answers regardless.

I think it’s one of the hardest parts of having a missing loved one, that there’s no rest in sight. This isn’t a sprint, isn’t even a marathon- you know how long a marathon is- it’s long, but it does end. For some of us, our search will never end and we’ll never find that time of rest here on earth.

But there’s always hope. It may not be forever, it may end tomorrow. Or we may be on the first leg of a long trip, one that takes us to another point, that gets us closer to yet another point, that eventually gets us there.

But you can’t get there unless you start moving…. time to move.

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Labor Day Blues

Yesterday was a holiday, the end to a much anticipated long weekend. A planned beach day, a fun day. But yet again we found ourselves in a familiar spot, the emergency room.

Michael’s chronic health issues have an impact on almost everything we do as a family. He avoids triggers during rough times and starts treating early. I know the cues and know how to manage his care the best possible. I should have a honorary nursing degree. After twelve years, it’s not something that’s okay but it’s something we manage.

I sometimes get concerned that our boys have to manage more than they should, that Drew must know too much about bad days and how to help when needed. But he also knows that dad always gets better and always comes home. He’s learning that though some days are bad, life can still be good.

He has to learn that lesson with a missing uncle and with an often sick dad. But we face both the same way, with honesty on a level he understands and lots of communication. Just like we need to let him know it’s okay to be sad and miss someone, it’s also okay to get tired and pray for change to the situation.

But it’s not okay to let it be an excuse. It’s not okay to believe every day will be bad. It won’t. His dad is a great example of not letting something bad stop him, just working around it. He shows them daily how to persevere and I believe that our boys will grow stronger and be more caring as a result of all they’ve faced. But I also hope they’ll be happy and believe in good days ahead always.



– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

If There Were No Valleys

I’d like to write a post about how much better today was than yesterday, some lesson about how a new day brought a new perspective.  In a way that was true, as Michael actually went 12 hours in a deep sleep with no shower or vomiting (shower= even better than meds when he’s sick).  We thought he was turning the corner on this episode.  I even got a few hours sleep, even if it was in a chair.  But that’s a lot better than the night before.

Instead, a new day brought news of my grandmother suffering two strokes in the night.  And my mom, who has been watching the boys while I focus on Michael, needed to go be with her.  But to add to the struggle, her car needed work that she can’t really afford, leaving means taking yet another unpaid day (or more) off work, and of course there was the matter of figuring out how to get my boys taken care of.  I reached out to friends to help solve the matter of the boys, and as I knew they would, faithful friends took that burden away.  There was still the puzzle to figure out of who would take them when, and what they needed, and where they needed to be, but there’s no question of them being taken care of and loved on.  My mom’s car/financial situation didn’t magically resolve itself, and as I write the work still isn’t done and she hasn’t been able to leave yet.  But God will provide, I do believe that.  

Reaching out and asking for help isn’t in my comfort zone.  It’s a phobia to tell the truth.  But I know that I can’t do it alone, and I miss out on so much when I don’t get pushed out of what’s easy.  With our search for Austin and our battle with Michael’s illness, I spend more time asking for help than I’d ever choose to.

But I can tell you this… if I didn’t face these valleys I’d never know the full gratitude of love and friendship.  I would miss the chance to be encouraged by a text, phone call or email that just checks in.  I’d miss a cup of coffee being delivered that wasn’t even asked for but much needed, that warmed more than just my hands.  My kids would miss the chance to know that they can count on others too, that this life is meant to be lived together.  They might grow up thinking church is a place we go, instead of the people who live it.

I’m not crazy, if given the chance I’d skip the valleys.  But since we’re here, might as well look around and enjoy the view.  I couldn’t ask for more.

Room 533

It’s a rough week in our house, with Michael in the hospital as a result of a CVS episode that is kicking his butt.  We’ve battled this for a very long time, with the first episodes just before we met.  At the time we knew so little, and had no idea how many years, hospitalizations and tests he would endure.  Like just about anything else, I think our whole family battles it.

the good stuff

I’ve become as much of an expert on his treatment and illness as possible, his voice and his reminder when he’s pushing himself too hard. Our kids know that Dad gets sick a lot and his hot baths and our frequent quick escapes from dinners out are part of their routine.  My mom picks up the slack when he needs to rest, and especially when he’s in the hospital.  As tough as it is for us, it’s unimaginable for him.  And when we’re in the midst of it, I can’t even believe the world keeps moving outside our hospital window, keeps going without us.

It’s so much like our search for Austin, where we spent the early days not seeing how the world could keep moving, how we would keep moving.  But we each did our part.  In both, some days feel like giving up is the way to go.

But we have to keep battling, have to keep finding real hope in each day.  I sometimes wonder what God has planned for us, when we have so many situations where hope can be hard to find, with so many days of exhaustion and heartache from it all.  Some days are overwhelming.  Today is one of them.

But I still know where my hope lies, not in the outcome but in God being there no matter.  Knowing that God can use even us, even this.  That is hope. 

Tonight I just needed the reminder.