Tag Archives: acceptance

The Freedom Within My Walls

imageJon was still awake and roaming the house when I went to bed late last night and the kitchen was a wreck this morning. He’d been in the pantry, cupboards and fridge, gathering food and dishes, setting them out on the island and table, opening jars, boxes and containers but not eating any of it.

He was also dressed, with shoes on, ready to go somewhere.

I quickly made breakfast and cleaned up the kitchen mess while he waited in the car. Then I sat with him in the car at the end of the driveway, close to an hour, waiting for him to give me a hint as to where he wanted to go. He finally handed me a Dunkin’ Donuts coupon. I drove there and waited another hour, for him to get out of the car. When he finally did, he went inside Subway instead.

There’s so much about the way Jon functions I don’t understand and these behaviors confine me to a life that looks much different than the norm. I sometimes feel I’m living inside closed walls, observing through a small window, the rest of the world rushing by.

But I have slowly come to realize something profound. There is a freedom within these walls.

Endless waiting brings freedom of time, quiet observation and contemplation.

While others rush from one place to another, I wait.

While others are frantic with long to do lists and schedules, I am excused.

While others speed past the obvious and the hidden, I notice.

I notice people rushing into restaurants, gulping down food and rushing out, taking no time for tasting, talking or relaxing.

I notice the simple joy and happiness of a small boy swinging himself in half circles on a bicycle rack and how his expression shifts to sadness as his hurried mother grabs his arm and jerks him away.

I notice the swagger of a young man as he walks through the parking lot, swirling keys around one finger, and am reminded of the strength and confidence of youth.

I notice the old woman leaning on her cane, shuffling with slow steps and wonder about the life she has lived and if anyone bothers to benefit from the wisdom treasure within her.

I notice the smiling young woman with no legs, entering the building in a wheelchair and don’t stare at her but at the people staring at her, watching their reactions and reading their thoughts, visible as a billboard, on their faces.

I notice the beautiful young woman with perfectly formed limbs intact, so lacking in confidence and longing for acceptance she dresses to draw attention to the intimate parts of herself and I pray for her.

I notice the many shades of green in nearby trees and a quirky variety I don’t recognize, comical in shape, like something from a Dr. Seuss book.

I notice a tiny bird chirping in the tree in front of my car. I watch him and think of Jesus’ words, that I am worth more to The Father than many sparrows.

I lean my seat back and notice the intense blue of the sky and think about Heaven and my young friend, Rachel and her dreams.

I listen to my daily Bible reading again and praise God for finding ways to speak encouragement to me.

And I observe my son, his unusual and mysterious ways dictating my every day, and wonder why we don’t measure with greater merit, those who march to a different drumbeat.

Yes, there is liberty in this confinement and a freedom in all this slowness and waiting; one others, too busy rushing, wanting, scheming, planning and doing, rarely experience.

Walls, it seems, keep me in but also keep the unnecessary out.

Maybe I am more blessed than I know.

Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God..”

My Hands His Hands

We celebrated another wedding anniversary recently and as I dusted off our wedding album to reminisce, I smiled, flipping through the photos.

Until I came to this one on the last page, this close up of our hands showing off our new wedding rings.hands

‘Oh My Gosh!’ I thought, ‘My hands were so pretty and so straight once.’

Six years after that photo was taken I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. A crippling auto immune disease  triggered at the birth of our first son and ten years later, ravaging through me like an eighteen wheeler squashing a bug, following the birth of our second.

As much as I wanted to, I didn’t have time to stay in bed and it really didn’t matter, staying in bed hurt just as much as being up. Painful nights without sleep and miserable exhausting days were measured on a pain scale of bad and horrible, making the bad days seem good.

My family needed me and with two active growing boys to care for, prayer and pills became my constant companion. Pain pills, steroids, low dose cancer drugs and weekly injections all kept me in function mode. My continuous prayers went from begging God for healing to demanding my body stop its destructive storm, and everything in between.

As the disease progressed the cartilage and fluid cushion between joints eroded. Fingers and toes began to drift, tendons shifted and bones fused. Slowly I was forced to give up activities I enjoyed; skating, tennis, playing guitar, clarinet and keyboards, hiking, wearing sexy shoes, doing my nails and many more.

The day I went to have my wedding ring cut in half to remove it from my swollen, misshapen finger was the culmination of how much rheumatoid arthritis had stolen. I cried tears of bitter resignation.

Since then, I have made drastic changes which positively affected my health: our family moved to a warm climate, I renovated my eating habits, began light daily exercise and the practice of stress release through prayer, meditative scripture reading and writing, laughing often, letting go of offense, forgiving, listening to my body, pacing myself instead of pushing, saying ‘No’ when necessary, asking for help when needed and giving myself permission to have fun.

Over the span of several years, I gradually reduced the amount of medications and have been off all drugs for a decade. But until God heals me completely, the joint damage remains.

As I looked at that picture of my normal hands, a stark reminder of what once was, I realized I rarely think of it now. I’ve adjusted, adapted and moved on.

My hands aren’t pretty. I know that. They are crooked and disfigured. But they still function, awkwardly managing to do what needs to be done.

They can still plant a seed or cut a flower in the garden, sew a stray button back on, slice an onion in the kitchen, butter toast, throw a load of laundry in the machine, reach for another person needing prayer, comfort or hugs, type this blog (two fingers at a time) and perform so many necessary tasks.

I’m far from the young girl in that picture now. I can’t go back there nor do I want to. Those days are gone and as the years roll by I am learning to be thankful for what is. Today. Right now.

I am learning to trust God in all things – understood or not, healed or not – big or small.

I’m grateful I still have hands. Crooked as they are, they belong to God.  I will use them to bring help, blessing and hope to others as long as I can. And I will raise them in worship and surrender to Him as long as He gives me breath.

Whether I’m healed on this side of eternity and in spite of the affliction and problems of this life, I choose to proclaim with Job of old:

“As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and that as the last He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God, whom I will see for myself, and whom my own eyes will behold, and not another.” Job 19:25-27

Jon and the Cutting Dilemma

Jon is into cutting. But not in the same way or for the same reasons as other people.

He cuts sleeves off shirts, toes off socks, slits in the center of our bath and dish towels, legs off his father’s pants and hem strips off sheets and bed skirts.

towelsYesterday I took him to Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins. He dressed in his finest: a sawed off sleeves, blue T-shirt with two belts tied around his waist, one made from a strip of a nice, fluffy over sized beach towel he repurposed and the other, a bright orange and white flowered cloth tie belt he took from my closet.

When I’m tempted to be annoyed about this mysterious (and money wasting) behavior, I stop and remind myself to be thankful Jon’s not harming himself. He has his own brand of creative fun going on in his very unusual and imaginative brain.

And it’s just stuff. I can always go to Walmart and buy more cheap, made-in-China towels and T-shirts for him to cut up. It’s all replaceable. He isn’t.

Hanging out with Jon gives me an entirely different way to look at life and teaches me how to relax about little things that don’t really matter. While Jon is cutting up stuff in our house, God is cutting away the Me that wants to rise up and demand life always go My way.

God uses the people in our lives, yes; even those with annoying habits, to instruct us, change us and expose areas where we need to improve. There is nothing more liberating than letting go of the unrealistic expectations we have for others.

Ask God to help you look at those frustrating, annoying folks around you through His eyes, with His heart. Then look inside yourself and let Him transform you so you can love freely, unconditionally and without barriers.

The same way Jesus loves me and you.

 Philippians 2:3(ERV) “In whatever you do, don’t let selfishness or pride be your guide. Be humble, and honor others more than yourselves”

Proverbs 27:17(NIV) “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

 

 

What Mom’s Really Want – After Mother’s Day Thoughts

I arrived home from church yesterday, after a wonderful service themed around honoring mothers. My breakfast nook was bright with a beautiful medley of flowering plants in a pretty container-a gift from my husband.

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A dozen red roses adorned my kitchen counter, a striking orchid was on display in the middle of the kitchen island, and my pantry was stocked with more tea flavors to add to my already ridiculous collection-a gift mailed to me from my youngest son and daughter-in-law;  signs that I’m not forgotten on Mother’s Day.

After Jon’s caregiver left, I knocked lightly on his bedroom door and peeked in. “Hi Jon, how ya’ doing dude? We just got home from church.”

He didn’t respond or look up.

“Do you remember today is Mother’s Day? How would you like to take me out for lunch today? I’d like to spend the day with you and Dad and I’m hungry. Are you?” I smiled even though he wasn’t looking at me.

Jon’s face turned to a scowl, the one that could mean in this moment, ‘don’t bug me’, ‘I don’t want to go’, ‘get out of my room’ or something similar. But I know him well enough to realize he could change his mind if I  leave him alone for a while.

“Ok then, you think about it,” I said optimistically, “and come out when you’re ready but don’t take too long because Dad and I are hungry now. If you wait too long it will be too late to go,”

I shut the door and hoped.

Thirty minutes later I asked again and was met with the same response.

As the afternoon went by I realized his closed door was a “No” answer so I put a pizza in the oven, made a salad and Mike and I ate a late lunch.

I talked to a mom over the weekend whose only child is serving prison time. She tearfully told me how she raised him right, taught him morals, values and to put God first in life. She wanted him, loved him, worked hard to put him through private school and college and did everything she knew to be a good mom. But he grew up, made some poor choices and now both of them are living with those painful consequences.

As she poured out her heart, my own broke for her. I began thinking how this mothering thing doesn’t always turn out the way we want or imagine.

What we really want and need from our kids, is the same thing they want and need, as children, from us. We want them. Their time, their presence in our lives, their love and maybe more so after they’ve become adults. Maybe as our kids need us less, we need them more. We want hugs, big ones, real ones, not those sent over distance, Facebook posts or text messages (though I’ll gladly take those if that’s all I can get).

I appreciate the gifts, flowers, chocolate, tea and dinners but my deepest longing is to know, I’m not forgotten and my kids still love me – their flawed, mistake laden and very human mother.

2Instead, some moms get a son in prison, a child passed away too soon, a miscarriage or infertility, a daughter who is estranged from them or a child like mine, who doesn’t know how to express himself clearly. And for these moms, Mother’s Day and everyday comes mixed with a bit of sadness.

Jon finally came out of his room long after the sun went down. I was relaxing in the family room in my favorite chair reading and drinking a cup of my gift tea. He found his dinner in the fridge and scavenged around in the pantry looking for snacks. Then he came next to my chair and stood there, his eyes flitting back and forth from the floor to my face.

I looked up and smiled. He smiled back then began singing an enthusiastic version of some Disney song while playing his ‘air’ guitar. He stayed near me smiling and singing nearly twenty minutes, glancing my way constantly to see if I was watching him.

I knew what that meant. “I see you Mom and this is what I have to give you on Mother’s Day. It’s the best I can do. I hope it’s enough.”

What I really want from him, he can’t give me. What I need from him, he still needs from me; to be recognized, acknowledged, affirmed and loved exactly for who he is.

There are no hugs, no sentimental cards, texts, Facebook posts, I love you’s or gifts from Jon on Mother’s Day but I receive with a little sadness and a lot of thankfulness the very best he can give me. A silly Disney song that says, “I know you’re still here.”

My oldest son didn’t take me out to lunch and my youngest son lives too far away and couldn’t be here but I know I am loved, even when life doesn’t play out exactly the way I hope, even when I wish for more.

So for all the mothers whose special day tends toward a measure of disappointment…

You are strong. You are resilient. You are amazing.

Contentment is learning to accept what is and finding peace inside it.

I pray you find God’s peace and unexplainable contentment in all of your unique, painful and incredible mothering moments.