My cheeks instantly flushed as I stepped out into the humid afternoon. On the horizon, the sky was darkening, the clouds building and bubbling. As I bent down to turn off the dripline to my garden, I smelled the rain on the air. I wondered if the storm would bless us or pass us by again.
So is the life of a New Mexican living here on the Great Plains. We can see a storm and watch it pass by us, so close we could touch it and smell it, and not get a patch of ground wet. We can also go from sunshine to flash flood in mere minutes. We don't really know for sure until it is happening.
The storms are the perfect analogy for my life right now. I'm at a season of change. Micaela's sudden developmental leaps have left us with a little girl who walks and talks about her favorite color. Adela's maturity and quick wit means I have a growing daughter willing to help with chores and care for her little sister. With their growing independence, motherhood for me has changed.
And I don't know what it means. I'm waiting. I'm putting my feet forward and testing the waters. I have taken on responsibilities in our new company, A&G Family Meats. I am even going to start a job outside my own home. For a woman who hasn't been formally employed since teaching in 2011, I feel as if I am venturing into an alien world. A world that requires me to put my coffee into a mug with a lid and drive away.
As I look to the days ahead, I have no idea what they will bring or what challenges will be faced. However, I am at peace with the thought that I am not alone. My God who sends the rains will bless my life with His never ending goodness.
What helps you juggle home and work?
I heard it. The tell-tale thump as Micaela went tumbling into our laminate flooring. Then I waited. A little bit of movement. Then more steps. I let out a breath. No busted nose this time.
Micaela is walking! Oh how we waited for this day. Hoped for this day. Prayed for this day. When Micaela was born she sustained an extensive brain injury. We were warned that 97% of children with such damage never walked or talked. Truly my family has a front row seat to God's miracles every day of our lives. She is both walking and beginning to speak in sentences.
However, let me level with you, my friends... I honestly believe shelter-in-place helped facilitate this long-expected gift. As we honored the social-distancing rule, the girls fell into a quiet routine. We were at home. Life was less chaotic and busy. It gave Micaela that little bit more space she needed to grow.
Truly, God works in mysterious ways.
But, it has been bloody. Micaela has always been prone to nose bleeds and it never stops quickly. I usually have to pick her up, strip her down, and put her in the bathtub to wait for the gushing to stop. Each time I wonder if she will hesitate to get back up and walk again. So far, she hasn't stopped. Perhaps she is a little slower and more cautious for a couple hours, but it never last long. It is as if something deep in her soul has a desperate need to go forward.
She inspires me.
There has been a lot on my plate. Millions of other families have experienced changes and shifts in their responsibities. I have never delt with change well. My need for perfection is frustrated by having the world change. How can I do things right if what I'm asked to do keeps altering? I have been going to bed many nights, frustrated and angry at myself, wishing I had handled my emotions better or got more done.
It is hard feeling bruised at the end of the day and still getting up the next morning with enthusiasm to try again.
I watched Micaela giggle as she made a round in the kitchen. It hasn't got old yet for her. It has been a couple months now and she is still estatic about working on this new skill.
Perhaps I must take a page out of her book. So what if I get some emotional bumps and bruises? I cannot stop. It will get better, the day more fluid, as we learn new steps of life.
I pray this for each one of you, my friends, that no matter what blows life has dealt you, that you are able to get back up with hope.
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.
How has God blessed you during this crisis?
I take no credit for the truth I'm about to share with you. But I am thankful for this new revelation. It could not have come at a better time.
Life, I thought, surely couldn't have gotten busier or more stressful. But it did. I've more responsibities at home and on our farm. Micaela has more clinics, doctors, and therapists than ever. Adela comes home with a small mountain of homework each evening from school, and it is the holidays.
One sad evening I sat at my kitchen table and despaired. When would the rest of my dreams be realized? I had hoped to finish the first draft of a new book and successfully establish crop-pruducing greens . Instead I was thankful to have clean dishes and a day where we didn't go to the ER.
I think you reach a point like this in your life and all you feel is confused. You start asking the questions like "How did I get here?" "When is this going to get better?" "What am I supposed to do?" and worst of all, "What am I doing wrong?".
God in His great mercy sent me some answers.
I love listening to Podcasts when I work and the girls are at school. I fell upon one titled RESOLUTION FOR WOMEN // SURPRISINGLY SATISFIED by Priscilla Shirer. As I listened to the wise words I felt great peace settle into me.
The truth is, there is nothing wrong with where I am or where my family is. God has planted us here. If I can honestly confess to God that I am doing my best with the time He has given me while I honor Him, my husband, and my children, then I am to be blessed with contentment. And, with that contentment, comes strength.
If you are feeling the pain of disappointments, the pressure of burdens, or the discomfort of uncertainty, perhaps it is time that you take a step back. I took a step back and saw that, in all truth, my family and I are fine. I am fine. We are honoring God, doing the best we can with His blessings as we grow in His wisdom. If we want peace, it is right there in acceptance that we have been provided for and trust that God has us covered tomorrow.
Contentment is strength. With that strength I have reached out and reclaimed my joy, my love, my hope.
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
How have you found strength in contentment?
How I've Been Blessed By the People Who Come Alongside Me as I Parent.
I glanced at the news and didn’t know whether to wrinkle my nose or bury my head in my hands. I know it has been said, but I will say it again, “What is this world coming to?”
And, “What can I do?”
The truth is, a lot of our cultural problems could be solved with good parenting, but, if the mom’s of today are anything like me, they are living in survival mode. They make decisions day to day, moment by moment, with full heads, bruised hearts, and exhausted bodies. We need help.
I think about the amazing women who have become “mothers” to me. Each have their own sweet styles of coming into my life and helping me. If you are a woman (or a man) in the more mature generation and feel drawn to helping young parents cope, I need to give you two very happy thumbs up.
I have found myself incredibly blessed by the advice and love of others as I parent. Especially in these ways:
If you want to change the world, change the life a mother or father. Come along side their journey as they do God’s precious work. We don’t need someone to do it for us, we need someone supporting our hearts and sanity as we move forward. And, we need the maturity, wisdom, and life perspective of that older generation to bring us out of survival mode and into joy in the journey.
A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. Proverbs 11:25, NIV
Lessons I Learned Watching My Eldest Care for Her Little Sister
I stepped into my office and was assaulted by a disasterous collection of stickers, notecards, glue sticks, and glitter strewn across the large white craft table. I have no idea how my seven-year old had managed to make such a mess in the ten minutes left before the bus came.
She grinned and held up her creation. "Look, Mom, I made Micaela notecards so I can teach her more words."
My heart melted. The cards were gaudy with their flamboyant lettering. She proudly flipped through them and read the words.
Adela and Micaela have such an interesting relationship. Like all siblings, they fight and bicker, but Adela's heart is softened toward the difficult journey her sister has. She keeps her chin up even when Jovani and I are gone for days with Micaela for hospital stays and specialists. She understands the extra time Micaela demands as we help her eat, dress, potty, and keep her glasses on. As Adela matures, I see her stepping up more and more to help her sister progress.
Have you ever stopped and considered the older sisters in your life? We have ones we are raised with and others that God placed along side us. Our older sisters encourage us, cheer us on, and are there for laughter and tears.
One of my favorite sister memories was when I snuck into my sister's drawer and grabbed the intense, round, bristly brush she had told me not to touch. Exultant, I wrapped a chunk of hair around the brush and yanked, expecting a ringlet to emerge. Instead, the brush laid claim to my hair in a terrible impossible tangle. My sister came in. I ran, sobbing to a corner to hide my disaster. My sister followed, and without yelling, sat on the floor and began the slow process of detaching my hair from her brush. I felt unjudged. I felt loved. Many years later I shared that memory with her and she told me that she had done the same thing when she was little, so when I tangled myself up, it was easy to be kind.
We should be ever thankful that the sisters around us who know what we have been through and emphatically share our pain. May we also never miss the opportunity to help our little sisters get untangled.
What a blessing Micaela and Adela have in each other, one that will continue to bless them the rest of their lives.
Who are the God-given sisters, young and old, in your life?
How a Mother Feels When She No Longer Spends All Day Every Day with Her Child
My eyes traveled down the hall and settled on the door of Micaela's classroom. It was hard to keep my feet from picking up into a trot. "No running in the halls"... even for mommies.
I reached the door sporting a happy collection of kindergarten decorations and turned the knob. Micaela was waiting for me inside, her EA helping her cut out a pair of paper shoes for her paper person.
I took a seat at the child-size table, my knees coming up to my chest in the tiny chairs. Fascinated, I watched her pudgy fingers work the sissors up and down with the EA's guidance. Her little pink lips made a perfect "o" as she concentrated on her work.
My arms ached to hold her, but my mind and heart filled with a hunger I had never considered. I wanted to watch her like a biologist sitting before a beehive or astronomer measuring stars.
I wanted to know her.
I was hungry to know her.
Micaela has a limited vocabulary. Adela, as a kindergartener, would come home and tell me about the games she played at recess and complain about her homework. Learning about Micaela is a constant challenge. How I long to know what is going on in her sweet head.
However, I admit that I feel the same about Adela. I love having someone stop me and tell me what my girls did that day in school or have a friend recount a funny thing they said. I want to know if they ate their lunch and if it tasted good. I want to know when they were sad and what made them laugh.
I want to know everything. It is a hunger that makes me catch my breath.
Did God breathe this into me? A distant echo of what He feels about me? Of how He longs to be invited into to every intimate corner of my world? Or, is it an invitation to long for knowledge of our Abba Father the way we long to know the constantly progressing character of our loved ones?
Eventually, the shoes were cut out and my girl was handed back to my care. The EA let me know the answers to some of the mysteries: what she ate, what she learned, what made her angry, and how much she smiled. But, the challenge to know my girls continues.
I am so thankful for family dinners and bedtime prayers. They are the moments in daily life when I get to peek inside their world. I like to believe that my Heavenly Father thinks about me the same way, that He gobbles up our every conversation. That He anxiously awaits the moments that I come to Him, to be held inside His arms.
It is such a precious kind of hunger.
Are you eager to know and understand your loved ones better? How do you see this mirrored in your relationship with God?
A New Home and New Dreams
My boots made hollow thumps as I stepped into the empty rooms. The bare floors and empty walls held a thousand dreams and promises of memories. I reached out and touched the smooth gloss of yellow paint. My nose filled with the scents of paint, vinyl, and hard work. My stomach gave an anxious flutter. A new chapter in life of my family beckoned.
I just needed to pack.
Moving is an incredible process. You weed through your life, deciding what will go and what will be sent away from your home. There will be bags of forgotten toys, ill-fitting clothes, and ratty furniture that won't make the cut. But, other items will be treasured and put in places of honor.
I love this process. I like cleaning out cupboards, filling boxes, and unpacking everything. As I organize my little kingdom, the world makes more sense.
I wonder how you do this for your soul.
Recently I watched the Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. In the series, Ms. Kondo goes to homes and has the families put things in piles, weeding out what will go and what will stay. Then, everything that stays gets folded, stacked, put away neatly. Afterwards, the family lives with more breathing room, space, and clarity.
Right now my heart and mind are so cluttered I find it difficult to walk straight. I wish I could throw all the priorities, memories, responsibilities, longings, and dreams into the middle of my living room floor. I would step back, hold things in my paint-smeared hands, and gently put many in the trash. Others I might pack away for a different season. I would make room for the vitality of my family and remove the guilt I feel and I see certain projects or hopes gathering dust on a cluttered shelf.
Yes, a good soul-cleaning sounds lovely.
Someday soon, when I have unpacked the boxes, I will put on those cleaning gloves, roll up my sleeves, and make space for God's light to expand into the dusty spaces of my life.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
What is your favorite part of moving? What do you learn about yourself in the process?
Something to Consider the Next Time You Snap
I never felt more human than I did right then while my six-year old aped-back my own discipline tactic. We had scuffled over her homework. She was whining, complaining, and dragging out the process. Supper needed to happen soon. I kept looking at the clock and the tension built. Then snapped.
She had only complained that her pencil wasn’t sharp enough, but she might as well have committed an act of terror. The forceful words were out of my mouth and I couldn’t take them back.
Adela’s face crumpled. She said, “That was very unkind, Mommy.” (Yeah, that’s what I usually say to her.)
I apologized. Tears continued to stream down her face. “I think you need timeout, Mommy.”
I was caught in a million memories. I wanted to simply repeat what I heard growing up, that I was the adult. That I was right. That she shouldn’t argue. She was wrong.
But, she wasn’t. She was an exhausted six-year old trying to get through forty-five minutes of homework while her four-year old sister enjoyed TV. She was frustrated. So was I. But I had taken my frustration to the next level. I did need time out. I need to calm down, to reconnect with God, to breathe.
I don’t do this enough. I don’t give myself space or a margin for error. I try to handle everything and be on the go all the time.
I need more timeouts. I’d like to say that I can get through the girls’ wakeful hours and refill my soul when they are asleep, but I just can’t. Perhaps my soul "gas-mileage" has decreased with all the extra needs of my family. However, if my soul was a vehicle, I wouldn’t be able to go anywhere if I was out of fuel.
We all need balance between our times of action and our moments of reflection. I am thankful for Adela’s compassion to tell me to take some time away from the situation. I pray that I never ignore God’s reminders to take time with Him.
Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31
Have you ever paid attention to the moments when you are spiritually exhausted? Have you learned to go to God before you snap?
Spring Break, Potty Training, and Art
I laid down on my bed and closed my eyes. Fully clothed and still on top of the green and red quilt, I listened to the sound of the girls giggling. Today is Day 5 of Spring Break. By noon I was worn thin.
Adela and I both let out a relieved sigh when Spring Break began a few days ago. School is wonderful, but we were both ready for a week off of our normal routine. We also had big plans for the next two weekends and the week. We were going to work in the greenhouse, do art, play in the sunshine, and go to the big town of Clovis for a “field trip.”
I added Micaela’s potty training to that.
But, I already made Micaela a new chart, laid out the crayons, and started up Sunday morning. I am bound and determined to teach that precious little girl how to pull up and down her own pants, climb onto and off of the toilet, flush, wash her hands, and leave the bathroom safely on her own.
Mommy life gets crazy sometimes. I say that and then laugh.
Mommy life is always crazy.
But it is also beautiful. I love watching Adela’s face as she is painting, her concentration and happiness as she places her imagination in color on white sheet of paper. Micaela’ squeal of joy as we put on tennis shoes and head to the track for some sunshine makes my heart skip a beat. Of course, there has also been arguments, tantrums, hungry children, dirty clothes, and spilled hot cocoa.
Yesterday, our little friend Annabelle came over for a play date and spotted a butterfly bouncing between the growing weeds. My eyes stung with tears. Spring is here. Life is moving forward and we are growing. All of us, but especially me.
I have never felt my heart change as much as it has in the last few years that I have been raising our beloved daughters.
Part of my Bible reading this morning included the first part of Ruth. I thought of her, a young woman, maybe even around my age. She had lived through the tragedy of being widowed young without children and forced to make hard decisions about her world. She chose to move forward in love and commit her life to a woman that would move to another country and re-start her life. But, there was a key factor that made it all worth while. She had God. With God her story wasn't easy, but it was victorious. She now holds a place in the lineage of Christ for her choice to serve the one true God and care for her mother-in-law.
My story isn’t easy either, but it feels beautiful today. I trust God with the journey of our family. I know that we will grow, right where He has planted us.
May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.
How do you feel God growing you, not despite your hard circumstances, but because of the them?
Sometimes God Asks Us to Move. Sometimes He Asks Us to Wait.
I hate it when plans go astray. Something about my nature needs to be moving forward, handling whatever comes next. I hate the ‘not-knowing’ because it might lead to ‘not-doing’. Jovani, my husband, feels the same way. It is one of the reasons we work so well together.
So, when our neurologist in Albuquerque asked us to cancel our procedure for Micaela’s VNS and get a second opinion at another Children’s Hospital, we were disappointed that our plans had to be changed.
The day after Valentine’s Day, I sat in the Specialties Clinic at Albuquerque’s Presbyterian hospital and listened to our precious neurologist make an argument for repeating the long difficult process for a surgery evaluation at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Phoenix has another surgery option that uses lasers on multiple spots of the brain, severing those spots' connection to the rest of the brain, without removing tissue. They can successful treat seizure spots on both side of the brain leaving a patient seizure free.
But, it means no VNS, at least not until we’ve consulted the specialists in Phoenix this summer.
I was devastated. We had a treatment option right within our grasp and then it was gone, shoved to the back-burner. The next available appointment in Phoenix is not until July. That feels like forever.
I’m reading through the Bible again this year. I was reading in Numbers the other morning about the cloud and the fire that God placed above the Israelites while they wandered in the desert. God was in the cloud and the fire. He gave them shade by day and light by night. When He rose above them and moved, they were to move too. When God stopped, they stopped. They might make camp for a day or a year and wouldn’t leave until God showed them the next step.
Right now I feel like those Israelites, encamped in a period of waiting for God’s movement. But, like the Israelites, it is so foolish to grumble. God is my shade when the sun gets too hot and He is my light in the darkness. I have nothing to fear. He will provide me with food, both physical and spiritual, so that I am strengthened and prepared for His plans.
In life we are continually either on the move, hoping for a rest, or we are waiting to break camp. However, God is a constant that we can count on. We have nothing to fear.
Right now Jovani and I are in a holding pattern in our care for Micaela. I will not miss the opportunity to grow with my God as we wait for the next step. Please pray for our patience and peace.
The Lord watches over you--
Do you feel you are in a period of waiting or of moving right now? How do you feel most blessed by God at this moment?
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