Sunday, May 26, 2013

Pass the Baton

My godmama Terry Beck went to be with her Lord back in the Fall.  Many tears have been shed off and on over the last several months. Her picture is on our wall near the space we have reserved for prayer in our home.  She is on our list of loved ones we prayer for saying "remember in O Lord in  Your kingdom..."

When we became Orthodox she took on the great task of accepting the position of godmother for our little family (only 5 of us at that time).  She prayed for us faithfully over the years.  She prayed for my marriage, challenging life decisions, the emotional roller coaster rides with our children.  Her last words to me were, "I'll pray for you in heaven." 

As a fellow foster parent she understood completely the challenges that come with fostering and adopting children with difficult backgrounds.  She understood that even when I vented or cried over an incident I loved the work that we were doing with our bio, adopted and foster children and wouldn't change it for the world.  She laughed with me and cried with me through all of the craziness. 

When my two older boys started communications with their wonderful bio mom my youngest son felt really sad.  He was happy his brothers were able to get to know their mom, but he cried over the realization that he will not have that privilege.  Terry decided to fill in the gap and made sure to send him little "extras" from time to time.  She always asked about each of her godchildren and I know she prayed.

After Terry found out she was terminal an amazing thing happened that only God could orchestrate.  He found someone for her to pass the baton to for our youngest son. A wonderful woman at church, out of the blue, sent a gift to my son "just because I thought you might need some dinosaur stickers today." She isn't afraid of him or annoyed by him.  She is able to laugh with me and cry with me and, most importantly, pray to our Lord concerning him. 

A blessing was given today for another woman to "stand in" as godmother for my eldest daughter.  She was willing to take the continue the race begun by Terry...pray for my daughter and encourage her in the faith.  
"Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;" Philippians 1:6

It is so wonderful to be able to see how the Lord arranges things so that His work can continue in us.  We keep running the race and when we can't He provides someone to pass the baton to so that His work will be accomplished.  What a mighty God we serve. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

My Life as a Boneless Chicken

I read a very touching blog last week, when I was in the throws of CHAOS...ANARCHY...MENTAL BREAKDOWN!  I was so angry last week because of how crazy the behavior and verbal abuse I received at the hands/voice, of my eight year old son.  This woman was very candid with her life experience with a child who was my son times 100.  You can see her story here: .  There are times, scary times, in the lives of many mama's, when the challenges become nearly unbearable and that "line" we're not supposed to cross moves closer and closer.  

Sunday started the 5th or 6th day in a row of behavior issues and verbal bombs raining down on me.  Again I felt such anger welling up inside of me that I had to put myself on yet another time out.  I went to my husband and told him we had to do something different because whatever we were doing was not effective and I was afraid I was going to cross that line...the line that was now only inches away.  This particular child is like a superhero (or super villain, depending on the day) who gets his power from attaching himself to an electrical source, only in the case of my "superhero" he gets his power from attaching himself to whatever emotional charges he can manage to set off in those around him.  I cried a little and my husband held me. 

I headed off to my room for a little "laundry therapy"...folding in a quiet room really can be calming (with or without rubber walls)...and after calming further I was able to pray.  I affirmed that the Lord knows the children He has given us and that He knows I can parent these children in His strength.  Then I said something in my despair so utterly ridiculous I laughed out loud, "so apparently, Lord, You know something I don't."  HA! The Lord knows EVERYTHING I don't!    Perhaps that was where my real problem was hiding. From that moment on my perspective changed.  The emotional power surge was over and I was calm. 

The emotional release I experienced during my laundry therapy showed me the importance of boneless chicken.  When children are small and life isn't going their way and their parent tries to pick them up they have a way of going boneless.  They relax their bodies making the act of picking them up very difficult!  What would happen if I went emotionally boneless when my child started escalating?  What if I, like a Jedi, put a shield of prayer and calm around myself so I would not give in to the craziness of my son's moods?  Right then I decided I'd be a boneless chicken when verbally assaulted.  The most important thing is to touch the heart of my son, work through his intense emotions and behavior while maintaining peace in my heart and home. 

My life as a boneless chicken means my expectations have had to change.  The external things I hope to accomplish varies daily (cleaning, schooling) so I can discharge my emotional energy before my son has a chance to "power up".  He is met with a calmer mama and seems confused with his power source no longer available. 

So how has the week gone?  As he learns to cross over to a new, more positive, energy source we aren't getting a whole lot of school done, but he is spending a lot of wonderful time with daddy outside, building, running, climbing...sometimes wrapped in the parachute type ground cover from the tent on the roof of the clubhouse sunning himself.  The boundaries are still securely in place, it's just that I'm not being thrust against them coming out battered and bruised. 

O Father God, help me, your servant, to be faithful in the tasks You place before me.  Help me to be just as diligent in praising my children when their efforts are fruitful, as I am in training and disciplining them.  Show me daily how to run my race in the joyful service of others.  Order my time and priorities that every moment of my day and purpose of my heart glorifies You.  In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Taming the Green Dragon

My status update on facebook today read, "Okay, angry green dragon mommy has gone back to her cave and mellow joyful mommy is back...", so you know it's been one of those days. 

Why is it so much easier to have amazing perspective when we are on the outside looking in?  When we're in church and my son starts to act up or my two year old screams or stomps his feet loud enough for the church in the next county to hear, I immediately tense up and usher the offending child into the cry room or hallway.  But when another family's child is acting up or being unusually loud I smile sweetly and chuckle to myself.  For the mamas and little ones in other families I have all the patience and compassion, but my own children are often met with the Angry Green Dragon Mommy. 

Angry Green Dragon Mommy, or AGDM, looks like mommy, but doesn't act like the mommy I am aspiring to be inside my mommy heart.  I stiffen or scowl or lower my voice in disapproval.  I am acutely aware of the families with children who remain silent and standing throughout the whole church service and I imagine I'm the only one with the out of control children.  That's mistake number one.  I'm not alone!  YAY!  Just from the responses today on my status I saw clearly I am not alone.  Some of my mommy veterans, including my own mommy, were the ones chuckling and giving my a compassionate (cyber)smile. 

Thankfully AGDM doesn't stay around for long, though long enough to perhaps singe some feelings and burn some lumber from the relational bridges we've been building.  AGDM doesn't want to pray or seek wise counsel, AGDM wants to use strength and volume to make the "villagers" do what she wants before slinking back into her cave. 

In C.S. Lewis' book Voyage of the Dawn Treader, a young obnoxious boy, Eustace Scrubb, became a dragon and hated it terribly.  The transformation caused him to see how ugly he was on the inside.  He tried to remove layer after layer of his dragon covering, but each time he shed one layer he saw that another layer was waiting just under the last.  In desperation he allowed Aslan to use his sharp claws to cut through, ALL THE WAY THROUGH, to the little boy underneath all those scales.  Jesus wants to do that for all  dragons whether that dragon is an angry, hurting, defiant child, a spoiled adult or tired and frustrated mom.  He wants to cut through the layers of this AGDM to reveal the mommy He made me to be. 

I may have printed this prayer before, but I find it helpful when this mama is fighting that ugly AGDM!

Dearest Lord Jesus, show me how to be a loving mother to my children. You know the desire of my heart is to mother my children in a way that will draw them to You. Forgive my shortcomings and help me not to sink into despair, but to rise up in faith with the knowledge that Your holy power is strong enough to sustain me and guide me to be the mother my children need. Help me to be slow to speak, quick to listen and quick to forgive my children of their faults. Grant me Your vision for my children that I may know how to train, encourage and pray for them. For you are holy now and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Wholly Weak

Observation 1: Each year as we enter Holy Week, aside from all the funny looks I get from people when they hear we haven't celebrated Easter yet, I find the walk to the foot of the cross is up a very steep hill.
Observation 2: Some of my children don't like walking uphill.
Observation 3: Sometimes I don't like walking uphill!
Here we are with Pascha (Eastern Orthodox Easter) just a few days away.  This year has been extra hard for some reason.  My resolve to limit myself, follow the prescribed fasting regime and focus on Bible reading and prayer has not been strong enough to sustain me past the first week.  I mean, I kind of  limited my computer time...when I felt like it.  I avoided animal products...except when I didn't.  I read the Bible and prayed...every once in a while, or when my husband reminded me. 
Last night we attended the Holy Unction service with all the children.  We ruled the balcony:)  My youngest son and one of the babies sat with his "new" godmother (the wonderful woman who the Lord provided while his godmother was dying as the new prayer warrior for him on earth).  Because of this, the first twenty minutes of the service were lovely and I was able to do some soul searching.  Then my son needed to come sit with us again because his body was too bouncy from the grape soda he had found and consumed the night before. He was very upset that there would be no food after the service and informed me that FOOD was the reason he comes to church.  At this point we hadn't even made it back up the stairs to the balcony yet.  I went and got a picture book and two magazines from the church library and cloistered myself, with my son, in the cry room and read a story about a saint and some articles about missions while the Gospel reading came through the walls sounding much like Charlie Brown's teacher.   I missed the service, but I didn't want to miss the service. 
Holy Unction is when each person in the church is anointed with oil for spiritual and physical.  I know I have the need for healing and I get glimpses of that need when I humble myself.  But last night I felt like I kept bungee jumping off a cliff with no bungee cord, landing scratched and bleeding at the bottom and then climbing to the top to do it again.  The moments where I could be calm with my son I was climbing.  Then he'd do something inappropriate and I'd jump off the cliff.  By the end of the service I was "wholly weak".  I was starting to get it.  I have to be weak in order for Him to reveal His strength.  I know everyone knows this, even I know this, but when I get into this cycle it's hard to remember. 
These last few days are powerful!  We experience the betrayal and death of our Lord, we enter the tomb with Him and come proclaiming His RESURRECTION!
Dear Jesus, help me, a sinner!  I pray for Your mercy upon my heart as I face each person and situation.  You are merciful to me, unworthy though I am, and You provide the only peace that will truly calm my heart and mind.  Come to my aid, O Lord, so that I will not lash out at those around me. Remind me in those moments that it is You, not I, in control and that You, not I, have overcome the world. Oh Lord, help me to embrace becoming wholly weak so that I may receive the light of Holy Week! Grant me your peace and quietness of mind that I may surrender my will to Yours and live my life for Your glory.  Amen.