My stomach was nauseous, my heart sick for days. Should I? Or should I not? The question went in cycles in my head. I knew what felt most right for the moment, but when I thought forward to the months and years ahead I feared the repercussions of my decision.
My precious nephews, born just a few months apart, were to be Baptized into the Catholic Church. It was a huge moment for the families and for me. I’m not part of the Catholic Church, but there are few things sweeter than having a mother and father dedicate to raise their baby under God’s guidance and protection.
Just a few days before we were to get on the road to head that way, Micaela had a seizure. My mommy-instincts suspected that she seized due to mild sleep deprivation and getting over-stimulated at the New Year’s Eve dinner we had with family. An overnight trip felt like a bad gamble. I knew it. But it was breaking my heart. I don’t want to be a mom that puts unnecessary bubbles around her children. I want them to experience life and family. And yet, …
My husband agreed with me. Micaela’s seizures were becoming more frequent and it made no sense to expose her to a long weekend trip with unpredictable sleeping arrangements, lots of noise, and stress. And yet, …
I despaired and worried that I was turning into that overprotective mom that would keep Micaela from everything she needed. To be honest, I was also very concerned that I would hurt the feelings of the family I loved by not being there.
The morning Jovani and Adela were set to leave, we did our daily devotional, Every Day in His Presence, by Charles F. Stanley. As if God knew my torn heart, the reading of the day was about feeling indecisive. Stanley wrote, “Therefore, rest assured that even at this moment the Father is teaching you to trust Him. And He will give you just enough light on the path to walk with Him one step at a time.”
Wow. I knew the first step before me: protect Micaela. It was obvious.
I looked around at the packed suitcases and sleeping bags and let out a deep sigh. Peace flowed in. The future with Micaela’s progression and development, as well as the relationship I share with my beautiful family were in God’s hand.
The path lit at my feet reflected the need to protect this fragile child from a seizure that could wipe her out for days and land her in the hospital.
Next time, I hope I look down the path and am content that this first step is illuminated. It is enough. It is sufficient. Life is not dark and confusing for those who rest in God. We simply must put one foot in front of another and have faith.
How often do we come to a fork in the road and are terrorized by the unknown? We’re are paralyzed because we fear the long-term ramifications of a bad decision. However, if we breathe and look down, we will see just enough of the path to move our toes.
Have you ever been faced with a huge life decision and felt that you were incapable of making the best choice? How did you pick the direction you would go?
“Mama. Can I have a quarter?”
We were headed to albuqueruqe with a couple hours still left on the road. I shrugged, “Sure, you may have a quarter. What do you want to buy with it?”
Adela’s voice rose in frustration. “No. Not a quarter—a quarter!”
I let out a breath. Obviously we weren’t talking about the same thing. “Okay.” I raised an eyebrow in the rearview mirror. “What are you going to do with the quarter.”
Adela sighed. “I’m going to eat it. I’m going to eat it just like the pigs.”
I laughed. “You mean like your piggy bank? Like the piggy bank at your abuelos house?”
Adela’s voice rose louder yet. “No! Its not funny! I want a quarter. Not like the dinero. Like un Rincon where the mice are.”
We went back and forth like this for a long time. Adela’s language is so much better, but when she can’t say that key word right, we both end up very frustrated. Our “quarter” conversation ended with me telling her we needed to stop talking about "quarters" it for a while.
A couple weeks later, Jovani brought home a brown bag full of fresh ears of corn. Adela squealed in glee and asked, “Oh, Mama, can we eat quarters like a pig?” She demonstrated with her hands, a big smile on her face.
Everything clicked into place. "Quarter" sounds similar to "corncob" and "corner". Rincon in Spanish means corner. We have two kids’ books where the pigs are eating corn on the cob.
I chuckled and grabbed up that goofy girl in a hug.
Miscommunication causes so much hurt in the world. From Adela’s little frustration to generational rifts in families, when people are unable or unwilling to express what is going on the misunderstanding results in pain.
Goodness, I did it just the other day. I was horribly grumpy, especially towards my husband. I didn’t quite understand the mood myself, but I let him know that I was “So tired of all of this.”
You can guess, things were a little off between us, that night. After I spent some quiet time in prayer, I realized that I had short-changed myself on quiet time and rest time for over a week while I tried to meet various demands. And then, because I have an amazing spouse who almost always saves me, I turned to him to fix something I didn’t quite know was wrong.
Sometimes, when our thoughts and emotions are twisting into negativity and anger, our words stopping making sense and simply are hurtful.
And, on the flip side of that, we need to ask God to help us listen to people with our hearts and spirit and not just our heads. People, especially hurting people, are not often wise in the words they use. That is when it is so important that God fills us with His mercy and love.
Like Adela and her "pigs eating quarters" phrase we might not always understand the people around us, but that should never change the way we love them.
A soft answer turns away wrath,
Have you ever been in a situation when all your words came out wrong and someone was hurt?
Do you have thoughts like this: “So much rests on my shoulders.” “My family is depending on me, I have to get this done.” “I never have enough time.” “I could do more.”
These thoughts have plagued my exhausted brain for years. There is always so much that I must accomplish and I feel like I am constantly falling short. I don’t give the girls enough attention. The house doesn’t ever feel clean enough. I wish I could study more, read more, learn more. I wish I could give Jovani more devoted time, too, but I am so tired.
In our last Monday post, Confessions of a Workaholic Who is Still at Home, I admitted that I was addicted to adrenaline. While I could have claimed that I was overburdened or overworked, the real truth was that I clung to the worry, anxiety, and rush that came with constantly being busy, constantly needing to do more, and constantly maintaining productivity. I cut God’s provisions out of the equation and bullied through life on my own strength. I didn’t sleep enough, care for myself, or trust my connection with God to direct my life.
If you took the Adrenaline Addiction Test at Soulshepparding.org and came up positive for this addiction too, then you might need to pull back and re-examine your life.
I found out about adrenaline addiction four months ago and since then have put in place new practices that have helped me rest in God. We still have to be productive. We still have to care for our families. But we can shift the burden of always needing to know what to do and who to help onto God’s shoulders. We can focus on connecting with Him and trusting Him.
We are not always supposed to be “doing”. Sometimes, we are supposed to rest with no other motivation except to connect with God, be replenished, and refresh our bodies. Crazy notion, right? And sometimes (this is even crazier) sometimes we have to stop and rest even when there are still things to do on our list. In years past, when I have felt frazzled and frustrated, I have self-soothed by getting busy, and getting things done. But, like any other addiction, I am not solving the problems behind why I feel upset.
This week, I want you to consider picking 1 to 3 things from this list and putting them into practice.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live out all my days feeling like it all rests on my shoulders. I want to find some rest. True rest.
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
What are some others ways to shift the focus of your day from your own busy-ness to the goodness of God?
I rolled over again and checked the time. 2:12am. Yuck. I stared at Micaela’s sleeping form on the baby monitor and swallowed. In about 5 hours she would be on the bus for her first day of preschool.
My mind thought forward to her day ahead. I thought of the teacher trying to get all those little 3 & 4 year-olds used to class routines while Micaela crawled around and threw her little fits. I knew she would have difficulty with most classroom activities like story time and desk work. I knew it would be hard for everyone trying to find a way for her to participate in PE and art when so many things were designed for children who could walk and talk.
I laid there in bed and tried to push back my panic. I felt like someone sitting at a table with a puzzle and offering a piece that wasn’t even from the box.
There were other options. I could delay it. I could take Micaela to school for her therapies and bring her home with no classroom time, no peer interaction. Then the hurt would be less for everyone, including me.
As I sat, cupping the warmth of a coffee mug, a floodgate of memories opened. You see, I was once a teacher. The last two years I taught I had an inclusion classroom which meant that children with special needs were students in my class. Precious kids with difficult conditions dramatically changed the culture of my classroom those years. And yes, even then, different hurt. Different hurt, but it made me strip away ideals, build and strengthen my teaching techniques, and create little fissures in my heart where love and compassion built new heights of caring. Different hurt, but changed and grew both me and my students.
To be honest, those “different” kids were held closer to my heart and more brightly in my memories than any others. By the end of those school years they were the hardest students to pass on to the next grade level, the most difficult to say goodbye to.
Like so many other times before, I was going to have to trust God. God created Micaela with purpose just like He created each one of us. And everything God makes is good. Even those different lives that make others wiggle and squirm in the discomfort of change. In the end, the growth is precious.
So, Micaela, with a big grin on her face, rode the bus that morning.
It was a long day. It was a difficult day. But it was a day that God had provided for.
You will keep in perfect peace
Have you ever struggled with the differences of others?
I didn’t know what to do with myself. For a few years now I have been very purposefully taking Sundays “off”. Of course, for a young mom, this is still an eventful day. I have little girls to tickle and feed, a husband to chat with, friends to call…yeah, it is just a different kind of demanding. I am busy, but I switch my focus from chores, writing, and child care to quality time with family and worshiping God.
This weekend my mother-in-law borrowed the girls so I would be able to care for the farm while Jovani was on a trip. As you can imagine, I packed Saturday with those jobs I can’t do with girls in the house. I kept a fast pace and felt great about what I accomplished. But Sunday…
Sunday felt eerie. What was I to do with all that quiet? After farm chores and church I felt like a little boat in the middle of a massive lake, dead in the water. I didn’t like the feeling.
I recently finished an incredible book, Your Best Life in Jesus' Easy Yoke. In one of the chapters, the author discusses people who are addicted to adrenaline. The description of such a person sounded like a workaholic. Now, I don’t know about you, but to me a workaholic is that man or woman who is never home, obsessed with their job, and gives their family a low priority in their lives.
But, as I read the chapter on Adrenaline Addiction in Bill Gaultiere’s book, I was shocked. How he described the person obsessed with being productive to the point where they panic if they are not accomplishing something, that was ME.
I think I pouted and argued with myself about this for a good two weeks before I simply accepted the reality: I am a workaholic.
I am a workaholic who prioritizes her family and is almost always home, but that doesn’t mean it is healthy. In fact, it is very unhealthy, because I struggle against the idea of rest. I struggle against giving God His agenda in my life. God doesn’t want us to always be going. He also wants us to spend a lot of time stopping, listening, and breathing. When I was honest with myself, I realized that I have a tough time trusting God. It seems easier to trust in my own power and strength. What if His will means I don’t get to accomplish my goals and dreams? What if the house is a mess? What if the laundry hasn’t been folded?
Bill Gaultiere’s book, Your Best Life in Jesus’ Easy Yoke, encourages you to constantly live in the rest that Jesus offers. We shouldn’t be striving and struggling and worrying. If we truly live and act in the belief that God wants the best for us and will guide us in all things if we let Him, then life stops feeling like a struggle.
We also must give up that addiction to adrenaline. If we are resting in Jesus’ love, we won’t be getting our adrenaline fix. Like all addictions, it is hard to give these things up.
The road to healing will be long for me, but I am learning. Since reading Bill’s book, I have started to do things that God has asked of me for a long time such as letting the house get cluttered on the days when the girls are needing extra love and attention. Leaving dishes in the sink and using my last hour of quiet for devotional time. Most of all, I don’t write or work on my ministry if I feel spiritually disconnected or disconcerted. I am learning to trust God when He tells me I need to prioritize something that goes against my own thoughts or will for the day. I am learning to stop, breath, and let the day come instead of me attacking the day with my own agenda.
You might have an addiction to adrenaline that turns you into a workaholic as well. Take a moment and visit soulshepparding.org and take the Adrenaline Addiction test.
If your results are positive, stay tuned. We will be discussing this topic further in my next Monday blog post.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Do you see other qualities of yourself that point towards being addicted to work?
Once upon a time, I had a hard heart towards parents with different children. From children who threw tantrums to those with learning disorders, my mind turned judgmental towards their parents. Though I never spoke these horrible thoughts aloud, I am ashamed that they lived in me.
God totally weeded this out of my mind and heart when Micaela joined our family. It is one of countless ways I have seen God use the trials that come with being a mother of a Special Needs child.
Our trials can be dark and desperate times in our lives, but we have an opportunity to use them in the best possible way. When we ask God to open our hearts and minds to what we are living through, we will find that he is using our challenges to bring about beautiful changes in our world.
As we go through these hard seasons or as we evaluate them from the other side, we need to be intentional about using them to grow.
Trials help us:
I smiled as I wrote this list. I don’t mean to make our trials sound desirable, but I wanted to bring a little hope to one of you today. I remember the moments where I sat viewing the desperate chaos of my world and wondering if it would ever be okay again. And it was okay, it was better than okay.
We all need to let ourselves be molded by The Potter if we are ever going to become His work of art.
Those who are at ease have contempt for misfortune as the fate of those whose feet are slipping.
What have you learned through your own life struggles?
Taking care of yourself as a mother isn’t complicated, but it does take dedication. Our hearts want us to focus only on others. Our minds worry that there isn’t enough time. Our bodies feel too tired to consider yet another task.
Remember two things: 1. You can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself. 2. You are a beautiful child of God who deserves to be cared for, too.
So, next time you are feeling worn, look at this infographic and consider how you could be treating yourself to some better self-care.
A wife of noble character who can find?
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Women are naturally caretakers for those around us, but we can get so caught up in our role that we begin to develop habits that make us both unhealthy and unhappy. Look at the list below and identify any that you are particularly guilty of.
1) Frequent sleep deprivation
When pushed to get something done, using our sleep time seems like an easy answer. Or, when we are needing time to relax we stay up late, knowing we will pay for it later. The problem is, everything starts to crack when we don’t get enough sleep. Studies shows that sleep deprivation makes us feel angry and frustrated. It makes it difficult for us to focus, retain memories, and even engage socially with friends. Tomorrow isn’t going to be better because you watched one more episode of your favorite show or got that last load of laundry put away. Tomorrow has its best shot at being beautiful if you begin with a well-rested body, heart, and head.
2) Giving no priority to our diet and exercise
We skip breakfast, eat what our toddlers eat, guzzle caffeine, forget where we put our water bottle, and decide there are more important things than taking a walk. Woah there, sister. That body that you depend on to change diapers and get the grocery shopping needs some respect. It will start to tell on you if you ignore the needs of your body for too long.
3) Quality time with Spouse and Children, Friends and family
Quality time means doing a single activity with your loved ones and enjoying those moments with them. It is so easy to get in a rut of preparing dinner and washing laundry for our family that we forget to stop and simply enjoy them.
4) Multitasking—during quality time, quiet time, any time
Multitasking is one big fat lie. The reality is we only attend well to one thing at a time. So, if we multitask our focus and quality of work plummets. Plus, it starts to make us feel insane. Don’t worry, sweetheart, God has your back. Take a deep breath and give yourself license to do one thing at a time.
5) Quiet time.
Introverted? Extroverted? It doesn’t matter. That quiet time, alone with our own thoughts and God, helps us reboot. It gives us room to think about what we are doing, how we are feeling, and what is important. Without this, the world can either morph into exhausting auto-pilot, or spin out of control into chaos.
6) Negative Thoughts
If your life is anything like mine, we are already pretty low on head space. There is too much to remember and too much to do. Worse, we are low on heart-space too. Our role puts us in situations where we must help others deal with emotional crisis. So, those negative thoughts about our life and self must be cut out. If your head and heart were a refrigerator, would you stash away a bag of moldy potatoes inside. No way! Learn new ways of thinking so your heart and mind are filled with good and healthy things.
7) Saying No to Help
I’m so guilty of this one. For years I tried to handle my kids and family with little-to-no outside assistance. I didn’t want to burden anyone nor did I want to admit that I was not capable of doing it on my own. However, about a year ago I had an epiphany: God did not design child-raising to be a lonely job. In the age of Abraham and Sarah, raising a child and caring for the sick was done with an entire group of family and workers alongside you. This idea that we must handle it on our own isn’t Biblical, it is a concept our society has created.
Stay tuned. Our next blog post is all about how you can turn these habits around and become your own best advocate for health and happiness and become an even better wife, mother, friend, spouse, or caretaker.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Can you think of some other ways you undermine your health and happiness?
I was “that” kid. I loved school. I loved having the right answer and waving my hand for the teacher. I loved my perfect handwriting and A+ finished assignments. Later in life, the decision to earn my teaching degree was an easy one.
A decade later I became a mom. I stared down into the sleepy eyes of my newborn daughter and imagined how bright and brilliant she would be. God had some lessons to teach me about that.
For the past two years, Adela has not been even slightly interested in academics. She stomps around outside instead of drawing on paper. She colors to get it done instead of make it pretty. She wants nothing to do with flash cards and letter-tracing and counting.
Frustrated, I told my best friend with three young boys how worried I was. Surely there must be something wrong with my parenting techniques. My friend’s five-year-old could already identify letter sounds while my little Adela wouldn’t even write her name.
Expecting my friend to share secret learning activities with me, I was surprised when she laughed and said, “Lora, relax. There is a lot more to life than school.”
My friend said she felt lucky that her three boys were interested and quick to earn academic subjects, but that wasn’t going to help them become happy and healthy adults. Our society places so much weight on academic success, but the reality is that we need to know how to have friends and a relationship with God to find true joy.
“Look at Adela,” she said. “She is sweet, sensitive to the needs of others, and she is happy. She plays well with others and works hard to do her chores at home. Who knows what plans God has for her? I don’t think we get to pick that as parents. We are just here to the best job we can in helping them fill God’s purpose for their lives. That might involve a doctorate from a prestigious college or it might mean a GED and an ability to be loving wife and mother. Are you ashamed of just being a stay-at-home mom?”
My eyes widened. “No. I love it. I don’t even miss teaching.”
She smiled. “See?”
I did see.
From then on, with a lot of prayer, I’ve learned to release my child’s life into God’s plan and purpose. I help Adela work on those academic things, but I appreciate my daughter’s unique gifts. She is brilliant. She is bright. She sees the world with eyes that are not mine and loves with a heart that I could never have.
God made my little Adela. I will honor His creation and pray that as I mother her I prepare her for His loving plans.
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Hope this article encourages you today! Have a wonderful school year!
So much has changed since last year and our post A Day in the Life of Micaela, A Special-Needs Toddler. It is definitely time for an update.
For those of you who haven't heard Micaela's story, let me catch you up to speed. Micaela was born premature at 27 weeks weighing 2lbs. She suffered a brain hemorrhage and also never fully developed her cerebellum. The end result was that she has less than 50% of normal brain mass. She has vision impairments, ataxic cerebral palsy, and a long journey ahead of her.
I like to tell people that my family and I have front-row seats to God's awesome power everyday of our lives as we watch this little girl overcome. She is amazing.
So, this is a typical day for our little family when we are at home and nothing unexpected occurs.
11:30am—The braces go back on and Micaela and I practice walking around the house. She is very proud of herself. Right now our goal is to be able to walk into the school independently this fall for preschool.
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"...and God was already there with me."