Saturday, April 19, 2014

To Go or Not To Go, that is the Question

The other day I was talking to someone about the fact that they were sick.  They didn't really want to be in their room, away from other people, and so were frustrated at the idea that having a fever meant staying away until they were better.

Another person mentioned to me that they had been sick with a fever recently, but they just kept going and doing what they normally do because, "They aren't the kind of person to just lay around." And I got irritated.  It seemed selfish to me.  It didn't seem noble to me to infect everyone else with their germs just because they didn't want to stay away.

Then, the other day, my youngest was throwing up.  He had been sick for three days, but no one else had been, so it was my hope that everyone else was ok and this was just a bug that the rest of us had already had.  I left him home from the outing we were going to on the 4th day, just because his tummy didn't seem up to par yet, but he was fine all day, thankfully.

However, half way through our event, another child starting acting weird.
"No thanks, mom.  I don't want any lunch.  And I think I feel sort of tired, so instead of playing with all my friends, I'm just going to go lay in the van"- for an hour and a half!  He threw up later that day.  So then I felt bad that we had exposed everyone we were around to this stomach bug and I should have just gone with my gut and declared him sick the moment that I saw him acting odd. 

If I went with my gut all the time, though, and didn't send any possibly contaminated children to anything ever, we would have to stay home a LOT! 

This all makes me wonder how the majority of other families deal with sickness and germs.  I don't want to act like a hypochondriac, but how do I wade through these waters and think of others as well as ourselves?

And when we are sick, how much do I let others decide whether to expose themselves and be in my home, knowing they might get sick and pass it on to others, versus saying no?

I usually try not to bring or send children who have a fever or stomach virus to anything until it has been about 24 hours since they were sick.  But sometimes I just don't know they are and then they are there and get others sick.

I can't stand it, though, when a parent KNOWS their child is sick and brings them anyway because they just want to be there or the child REALLY wants to participate.

Then there are those who are obsessed with being well, and if my kid coughs or sniffs funny, they cover their face in fear that they will be next.  Suddenly, I feel like I should probably stay home at all times because if I waited until no child ever sneezed, coughed, picked their nose, or sniffed, we would never be able to walk out the front door! Ever!  Yet somehow, when someone covers their face because of one of my children's bodily functions, I immediately feel guilty.  I hate that too!

Today I happen to be faced with what to do about Easter service tomorrow. One child threw up this morning, one- last night.  Chances are they are both going to be fine tomorrow.  But I'm probably going to take them and one of the kids that has been well so far is going to lose it at lunch and then I'll know that they shouldn't have gone to church that morning.  Or, as things go- if we all stay home- we are sure to all be completely well and it will have been a waste. 

You know, it's not the cooking and the laundry that stresses us moms out.  It's issues like this- emotional interactions with other people and the judgements that others form about us, that we form about ourselves, and the feeling of responsibility to get it right- EVERY SINGLE TIME that makes parenting so hard.  It's why babysitters think that taking care of kids is no big deal and then parents have a completely different feel to it.  That responsibility of, "Am I making the right call?"

So, I don't know if we will be at church tomorrow or not, but I'd love to know if other people struggle with this issue and how they navigate it.  I'm looking forward to Heaven when sickness won't be an issue anymore.  Easier decision making!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

How to Prepare For a Wedding- Aldrich Style

My last single brother is getting married this summer- on the opposite end of the country and we have decided to attend.  Actually I think God was getting a real kick out of the situation when I told the kids we couldn't afford to go to Florida for vacation.  It was just a few days after that declaration that I discovered we were going to Florida whether we liked it or not.  Just to be clear- we like it. It isn't completely clear whether we are driving ourselves or all hitch hiking, but we are going.

Anyway, the process of loading up 9 people in a van to travel 24 hours driving time in order to be in a wedding- which I might note requires attire that doesn't look like it's been smushed in a van for 24 hours- is quite the feat.

Also, this means that our vacation budget is about to be funneled directly into the gas tank, so we had better make the most of all those miles.  Thus begins the planning extravaganza.  In short, it goes a little something like this:

-Determine how many things we'd like to do on this trip if we could do anything we wanted.
-Cross off 75% due to time, money, travel issues, and logistical impossibilities (we can't tie the children to the roof of the car, that's illegal, so that's a no)
- Add several hotel stays that we hadn't thought of due to other logistics.
- Locate a hotel that serves free breakfast, will let 9 people all sleep in a relatively close space, doesn't mind kids, has a pool- cause why would you not take advantage of that possibility if you can, and also doesn't have some random minimum stay of 3 nights.
- Reserve rooms in three different states. Write down how much that will cost.
- Buy White Out to paint across hotel bill projections so you can think about something else between now and then.
- Next, discuss ideas of things to do- DC for three days? Week in FL? Activities while there?  Call the most insane friends you have in those areas and ask them if they have beds for 7 children, one which still wets the bed, and 2 adults.  Wait patiently while they recover from their fainting spell.  When they say you can stay with them, become giddy with excitement over the fact that there are still people in the world willing to house an entire army battalion in their home. Smile that you have such awesome friends- even if they are a little crazy.
- Find all the free things to do in the areas where you will be and carefully coordinate when you will do them. Dream about a couple of activities that actually cost money. Pencil them onto the list in case you accidentally find a winning lottery ticket on the sidewalk.

-Next: shop for wedding clothes for everyone because no one has anything decent to wear to such an event.
-Go look for a dress for yourself. Try on every single dress in the department only to find out that nothing fits you there because you are actually in the juniors section. Whoops.  Try on all the dresses in the women's section in three different stores and discover that still nothing looks good.
-Pause to bemoan the weight gain over the winter, partly due to surgery and partly due to chocolate ganache. Get over it and keep going.
- Cross off several stores on the list in this way.
- Shop for shoes for the kids WITH ALL THE KIDS. Act like you are only there with one of those children.
- Create mass chaos in the shoe section while everyone runs to find the shoes they like best.
- Put them all back because none of them are black dress shoes.
- Find shoes, be happy, buy them, have a heart attack over how much money you just spent.
- Take shoes home and realize that you forgot to buy one child shoes.
- Go shoe searching for that child in several other stores that you go to on other errands.  Find nothing. (This is a rule.  Discovering the right thing can not happen by chance. It must take intentional WORK!)
- Locate two dresses that fit girls, no one, no, two...wait...only one.  Ok, buy one.
- Get tired of stores and try purchasing two dresses for yourself online. This allows you to not fit in something thus giving a good excuse to return the garment to the store and try again.
-Somewhere in here do something else in your life besides work on wedding clothes shopping. For example: feed people meals, teach school, or bathe.
- Take dress back to department store.  Shop for other needs.  Find two dresses, three suits, three ties, three dress shirts, two suit sets, and a make up sale at one store and buy it all. Be happy all the way until you look at the receipt.  Have a second heart attack.  And also a seizure.  Loose two nights of sleep.
- Bring clothes home and try on. Mark 4 pairs of pants to be hemmed.
- Go shopping again and find 1 pair of shoes, three belts, 2 necklaces, a dress shirt and a tie.
- Come home for approval.
- Take back tie. Get different, "better quality" tie.
- Also exchange belt and shoes.

And this is where we are at in the process. On one hand, it's a fun adventure.  On another, it's a lot of work.  And on a third hand- if you have one- it takes a lot of faith.  I know we are doing what needs to be done, but it's always a little tricky how things will actually turn out.  Sometimes it can be exciting to see how God will provide.  Sometimes that's a little stressful, but it's all part of the adventure.

Now that we have hotel reservations and clothes, we'll move on to food. That should be yummy.

Monday, April 14, 2014

20 Things I've told the kids in the last 2 weeks:

1. You may not apply Elmer's glue to your entire naked body. It isn't lotion.
2. Please do not stand on top of the potty chair seat to pee, you aren't that good of a shot.
3. No chickens may jump on the trampoline with you.
4. You also may not rollerblade on the trampoline.
5. I will think about your request to sleep in the attic and get back to you.
6. Used Name tags...You may not place them on the ceiling in the living room, above your desk to mark your territory.
7. Also, you may not put them under the thermostat on the wall so as to claim your right to the temperature control in that room.
8. If the question involves the words "hot glue gun", then I didn't need to hear the rest of the sentence; the answer is no.
9. You splashed so much, I'm not letting you take a bath until you move out.
10. Duct tape is not an appropriate option for fort building with blankets as it removes the fabric from the blanket and the sheet rock from the ceiling of your bedroom when you take it down.
11. If you are afraid of the bees outside, then you had better go make friends with them because friends with the bees or not, you are GOING OUTSIDE!
12. You also may not jump on the trampoline naked. Or cause your siblings to become naked while jumping.
13. If you fed your peanut butter and jelly sandwich to the chickens, then I'm not giving you another one.
14. I'm glad you like practicing a variety of accents, however spelling lessons is not the time to practice your Southern. You will fail your lessons if you do.
15. You can't sled down the hill, in the spring mud, on your kick board that you use for swimming. Not because I won't allow it, but it just won't go anywhere.
16. You can't possibly be "Turning into a puddle of sweat because you are so hot!" It's only 64 degrees outside!
17. If you forget to change your underwear again, I will make you present your dirty underwear to me as a daily morning offering at breakfast in front of the family to help you remember.
18. You must change your socks more often than every 2 weeks.  I can't have you getting some disease like trench foot all because I didn't realize you were wearing the same socks all the time.
19. I said that you could draw, color, or sit while I read to you.  But I didn't mean that you could walk around collecting various large pieces of paper, to cut and tape together to create a piece of paper the size of the entire room to draw and color on.  This was not the idea.
20. Create a place in the playroom to sleep? Fine.  But set up two tents, get all the sleeping bags out of the attic, hang blankets from the ceiling in there? I was just thinking of a few blankets and pillows.  I'm drawing the line at blowing up air mattresses.  No air mattresses.

It's no wonder that I can't keep ahead of them and all their ideas.  So much creativity flowing around in here!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

My Fight with Food

This morning I awoke beating myself up...again about what I ate yesterday.  About the fact that the skirt I tried to put on wouldn't snap together at the waist without taking a good chunk of flesh with it. And about the fact that I have "lazily" neglected my exercise for the last 4 months.

I don't know about you, but I like being a certain size and I like knowing that I'm eating things that are good for me.  When I'm the size I want to be I don't generally think about the food that I'm eating being unhealthy.  In general, I make healthy food choices; with large amounts of chocolate and the occasional biscuits and gravy being the exception. Sometimes I eat too much- that's probably my biggest fault. But, overall, I do ok.

Anybody else ever struggle like this? Beat yourself up over things that to anyone else would seem silly? I mean, last night I had dinner and then had biscuits and gravy for a snack because Jon-boy was having a rough time and I wanted to do something that would bless him.  So, biscuits and gravy and a viewing of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark seemed to be in order. Excellent bonding moment. However, somehow when I finished I felt like I had failed myself and my body.

Then, of course, my brain trails off deciding that means that I seem to me having massive struggles with gluttony and laziness.  I assume that I must be turning to food instead of God, and therefore my relationship with eating and sitting around all day is pure evil.  I must need to repent and flail myself for a good long while over my sins. It's also a good sign that I can't ever fix this problem.  I mean, I keep doing it over and over again.  I've exercised before and here I am, still overweight. I must not be able to ever do this right. No use trying anything I've tried before because it doesn't seem to work!  Here I am as proof of that!  Such rash logic!

GAH!!! The stuff that just plagues me in my head is terrible!

So, last night I prayed and asked God to help me. Help me take care of my body. Help me eat what was good for me and not just eat emotionally.  Free me from gluttony. This morning I still woke up feeling defeated. That is not the power of Jesus! It isn't the way it works.  Something else was going on here.

Then a friend of mine called me later on and I talked to her about what I was struggling with. And she really helped me with some perspective.  Here are some things she helped me see:

First of all, I seem to forget my current circumstances- big things like surgery and pain, and sitting on the couch most of the time because I can't walk, and emotionally feeling down because I've been incredibly lonely.  Somehow, when I start thinking about my eating and exercise, I declare, "There's no excuse!" This CAN be true in some ways- I don't have to be a victim of circumstance and I can choose to eat better and come up with energy for exercise- even if I can't walk.  For instance, I can do plenty of core exercises, push-ups on my knees, sit-ups, leg lifts, arm curls- there are lots of ways I can get good and sweaty.  I can also make healthy eating choices. But that isn't all that's going on here. Making healthy eating choices that aren't a part of my auto-pilot life requires placing a high priority and focus on this in order to be successful.  So, the question is, why isn't it a high priority?

Something else must be taking that place.  So what? Well, perhaps the high priority has been to care for my kids, or not do too much, or to get school done, and rest. So, food and exercise has taken a back seat. Why, then do I throw all that information out and declare myself a loser for not also simultaneously paying attention to health and fitness?

Second, I AM committed to transformation in my life. So when I have had the time to focus on fitness and eating, I have done that successfully- and lost weight, and become more healthy.  There is no reason why I can't do it again.  There isn't anything permanently wrong with me.  I haven't failed over and over, I've just switched priorities. 

While perfect eating isn't a habit right now, it is becoming one.  I certainly make better choices than I did 8 years ago, and I am growing in this area.  There is hope that I can continue in that direction and that someday more healthy choices will be the way I find comfort.

Third, rather than seeing my emotional eating as evil and destructive, I can see it as a friend trying to take care of me.  It might not be the best way to do it, but that's the motivation behind it.  When I'm physically cold, hot food feels like a warm blanket.  When I'm emotionally low, comfort food feels like a friend giving me a hug from the inside out.

I'm not saying this is an excuse to stay where I'm at, but it does help de-emphasize the bigness of the issue. No, this is not a huge giant resistance to victory in my life that I, obviously, have little hope of ever overcoming. This is simply a time when I am focusing on something else and my body is trying to take care of me in the best way it knows how while on auto-pilot.

Does that mean that I'm hopeless on a path to destruction? NO! It just means that I either want to shift off auto-pilot and pay attention to this part of my life more OR notice that I'm on auto pilot for that right now for good reason and be ok with that.

I think I'm ready to shift off auto-pilot again, but I'm going to do it without beating myself up for the past 4 months of surgery, rest, and recovery like any sane person should. That's living in victory.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Taking A Sick Day

Today I've been in the bed all day. Sore throat, head ache, body aches...ew.

Also, I've just been depressed.  Everything is SO much harder with one leg. Takes more time. My crutches and I are not on speaking terms right now.

I was reading in that popular devotional today, Jesus Calling, and my eye caught this:

"Hardships are part of the journey too. I mete them out ever so carefully, in just the right dosage, with a tenderness you can hardly imagine.  Do not recoil from afflictions, since they are among My most favored gifts."

I'm tempted to recoil from just the idea that hardship is a gift from Jesus.  But I also had the privilege of listening to this sermon this morning:

Reminding me that Paul "knew" a whole lot about God, but it wasn't until after he went through hardships and suffering that he "learned" it.  After he had been through all sorts of trials, then he had credibility when he talked to others.  He could say that he trusted in his Master no matter what and it meant something to the people who heard it because he had been through Hell and back and was still saying that he trusted. 

There's something weighty about hearing words of encouragement from one who's "been there".  It makes them more believable.  Like they truly know what they are talking about.

To say that what I'm doing right now is considered a hardship, almost seems laughable.  I mean, I'm sitting in my bed with a wonderful supportive family chugging right along without me while I lay here and rest.  They answer my every beck and call, feed me, get my medicines, and the house keeps running right along without me.  Yet, it seems as though God is continuing to teach me that I'm not as big and necessary as I always think I am.  (Pride) How many ways can He knock it out of me?

Don't get me wrong, I know I'm loved, and special, and unique, and all that, but I'm not God. And so often I find myself creeping into the mode that I AM. 

This is a comparatively wimpy hardship to anything that Paul went through.  But needing others, having to ask for help, feeling teaching me that He is all.  He is what is needed. For me and for others.  Abiding and trusting in him and not my own ability to be creative, or plan, or economize, or become more efficient in every area of life.  No, that's a personality that Jesus can work through, but in the end, it's Him that is needed, no me. 

So, I bow my head to this and say, work in me. Make me your servant, Jesus. Keep me from idolizing myself. And thank you for another chance to learn this lesson again. I'm not sure how this hardship will help me be a blessing to others, but I'm happy to be reminded that You, God, are everything.  And I am nothing. Thank you that you work through my nothingness for Your glory.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

He Makes me to Lie Down in Green Pastures

I think the operative word in this phrase is "Make".

I seem to have a hard time with the lying down part.  I see green pastures and I say, "run!" Nothing about things going smoothly, sunshine, and food says, "Lie down and rest" to me.

I find myself forced to lie down ALL. THE. TIME. right now.  Thanks to this foot of mine.  It's supposed to be restful so I can recover from injury.  And things around me are going smoothly, probably because there would be no way to rest if it wasn't.

Yet I'm so ambitious.  I see smooth sailing and thing that it's time to conquer all those things I didn't do while it was rough and things were going hard.  "Quick!" "Get it done!" "Hurry, while the time is good!" But it's time to rest.

He's making me lie down in the green pastures- like the child that desperately needs a nap in the middle of the most beautiful day.

So, I'm down. Where I'm doing mostly nothing. As it should be for now.

There will be plenty of time to get up and go and always there will be plenty to fill the time.  But for now, He's MAKING me lie down.  So, that's where I am.

Monday, January 13, 2014

There are Good Days, and then there are Good Days

Today I had to take a unexpected trip into the doctor for my cast to be looked at.  Something about the fact that I could move my toes sent the doctor scurrying to stop it. Cut, x-ray, dress, wrap, and recast. 

...4 hours later (Yay, for those moments when they can work you in between appointments) I had my new boot.

Today I had a choice.  I had a full day planned out.  It didn't start like I had planned and it just kept getting messier and messier.  I could have groaned about each little thing- began the day with a really sad phone call from a friend. (That I did groan over, but I determined to try and continue on my day.) But it was a rough start.

Next, I sat downstairs waiting for a phone call while I attempted to start school on time.  If any of you have started up school after vacation you know that the first day back into a routine can be hitchy at best.  Today was no different.  We had some interruptions, some difficulty finding things, and some tricky assignments, but we pressed on, cheerfully.  For all of about 30 minutes.

The doctor called back and indicated I needed to come in.  Ok.  And then began the 4 hours. It would have been easy to look at this day as a wash, to see the lack of schooling, the endless hours "wasted" at the doc's office, and only little glitches in between.  I could have made that choice. I often do.

But today, I made the choice to be cheerful about it and look for ways to enjoy where I was at the moment.  So...

When school wasn't going...I just stuck with what we were doing- reading aloud.  We read and the kids colored some cards.  They learned some history and we were able to send some notes that communicated love to my friend.  Not the "normal" school, but worthy.

When we got to the doctor and discovered that it would be an hour and a half before the dr. could even see me, we (Brandon, Justin, and I) took the rare opportunity to have lunch together at the cafeteria.  We had a delightful lunch, enjoying our little son between us and each other.

When I got back to the crowded casting area and had to wait for over an hour, I could have been irritated, but instead I had the opportunity to be a bright spot in the lives of the nurses.  I was happy, smiled, joked, and tried to be accommodating. Around the corner, behind the next curtain, was a girl who was just a mess.  I won't get into everything that she had going on, but there was a clear combination of things that had happened (accident) and things she had done to herself (drug type issues) that  came together to make her one miserable, in pain human being.  She was angry, lashing out, and there really was quite a difficulty in knowing where to start with her problems because one just rolled on top of another. 

We both had to sit there for a long time.  Not really in each others' presence, but near.  I could have become frustrated with her there, but I took the chance to pray.  It made me wonder how often God makes us wait in a place, hoping that we will notice someone besides ourselves that needs help and either help them, or pray or both.  I'm afraid that most of the time I'm too busy feeling irritated that my plans are being changed without my consent that I don't pay the least attention to others or their needs. Oh that I would remember today and how energizing it was to me and to the other staff, and I think some of my comments seemed to help the girl be more peaceful.

I don't know why she stuck with me so.  Perhaps because I heard that she was the same age as me, perhaps because behind her rotten miserable attitude I saw a mirror of myself and how I respond to others sometimes, or perhaps just because she was so obviously sad and I had no idea how to help her, but wanted to.  Whatever it was, she did stick; both as a check to myself to be kind even in difficulty and to pray for others around me.

It wasn't the day that I planned, but it was a good one- worth the changes and switches and the waits.  That's what I choose today.  And, by God's grace, I purpose to choose it tomorrow.

 "This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24

Friday, January 10, 2014

When I can't Seem to Do what I want to Do

I've been hanging on to something a friend of mine told me recently:

"God fills your sails with his strength and energy. When the time is right and you can do things that seemed totally impossible before."
And um...when the timing isn't right trying to do the impossible just ends up looking ridiculous and is also draining and exhausting.

Isaiah 40:31- They that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength...

It's not, "get a vision from the Lord and then in my own strength tackle it."
It's not, "Wait for just the right moment and then YOU can do it."

It's also not, "Try harder and you will get there."

I love this vision of seeing a boat ready to sail and me blowing for all I'm worth on the sails to get it to where it needs to go.  Seems pretty ridiculous. What does a true sailor do, but wait for then wind? When it comes, then does he spend his energy blowing to help out? Of course not, he stands ready to direct the boat where it must go thanks to the power of the wind.  When the wind dies down.  He eats and plays cards and waits.  Of course he makes sure that everything is just right and ready should the wind whip up, but he just waits for the strength to come.

Then, he just holds on for the ride and does his best to steer in the right direction.

They that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. 
Seems like my time to wait for a while.