Losing Your *IT* vs. Saving Grace (5 Things I’ve learned through 7 years of Poop)

 

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Last week was one of those. A week that sapped us of sleep, and strength. Of two cars with issues that drained the bank  just like they did last month.  Of many things broken in this house.

My mug, known by all as an extension of my arm and used every day.

My mug, known by all as an extension of my arm and used every day.

My favorite cofffee mug, used 50x a day.

My mug, this week.  Followed by my favorite tea cup and my grandmother’s porcelain ash tray. All in a week.

I sighed, I felt disappointment… deeply struggled with the inner beast… but no children were broken and that is something, if you consider how close I was to edge of my walk in grace.  That fine line where the sidewalk ends in this walk with my Guide. Sometimes, he’s just gonna have to carry me, because I can’t take a step.

 

I teetered on the edge for a minute there, but I took a deep breath. I’ve been here before more times than I could ever recall enough detail to relate to you. It’s that often.   I can scream with the best of them. I can stomp and slam doors and rage to high heaven.  I have, and sometimes I do, but I’m finding that it’s not as often anymore and that this grace that is said to be sufficient… it actually is if you let it be.  I wonder how I got to the place where suddenly I’m choosing grace over rage more often than not. Especially when current circumstances would predict otherwise, based on past experiences and outbursts from my inner godzilla.
I suppose it could be a phase. It could be my constant expose to the need for it, and the scarred knees from falling over and getting back up, over, and over, and over, and…
I think, like many of my other blog posts will tell you, God likes to teach me how not to lose my **IT** by giving me many opportunities.  Hundreds of them. Could it be that I’m finally getting the message?
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Here are a few things I’ve learned in my  battle between choosing a saving of  Grace or a losing of **IT**.

 

1. WHEN I RAGE AGAINST THE GRACE. The rage does not heal and it does not put back together my pieces of broken things…the mug I love and the heirloom that I never used anyway. It was beautiful and special, but what need to I REALLY have for my grandmother’s ash tray?  No, crossing the line won’t bring the things back. Any of the things. It simply breaks and bends more things around me, and the next in line tends to be my children.

2.  BE PREPARED, IT WILL KEEP HAPPENING. I, alone, choose my focus, to be aware of where I am and who I am to them.  To accept the truth that it is not a question of IF I will ever be on the edge of losing it again, but WHEN.  We have to stop  crossing our fingers and hoping for days where we are not tested. Let’s simply agree to accept as fact that we will be. We should even PREDICT that today we will be, and the real question is which way we will step. After it all, I know what happens when I cross over from this field of grace to  the release of anger. The grass is not greener on the other side.  Sure, there is some bizarre feeling of release in that short moment of Losing **IT** that I can try to convince myself  feels “good” to let go of.  It’s not good. It creates a wasteland in tiny hearts around me.  Angry, selfish parenting…making our children’s mistakes and struggles about US and our day is self-centered and excludes their needs. This is THEIR day, too. I do not own it.

3.  I CAN’T CHOOSE THEIR OUTCOME.  My kids are individuals, who also choose their own opinion and response to my behavior.  I can not guarantee that they will not reach adulthood feeling cracked  and warped from being in our care.  I do not choose to parent with Grace in hopes of creating perfectly behaved little people and adults that will give me a great reputation. I do it to give them an example of giving in, of choosing grace even when you don’t want to.  Their perception of their childhood is their own and I can’t control how they process our moments together, the good or the bad.  Many a child has felt wounds from parents who struggled to be their best but all are human and all fail.   I can’t choose their reaction to us. That is theirs. I just want to be by their side in their life, which is where God has put me.  Just what I asked for!!!  And how I treat them will dictate how these children will trust me and want me beside them in the future, when it become THIER choice to call me…or not.  Their future decisions about me start with how I care for them now.  Their future decisions on when to run to grace and when to lose their own **IT** will conjure up memories of a mom. What do I want them to remember?

4. I CAN’T CHOSE CIRCUMSTANCES, BUT MY RESPONSE IS MY CHOICE. And that’s good because some of our current circumstances are much less than I had hoped.  I still have my choice. I choose my actions, right now. I can refuse to cross over when I know I’m there at the edge of control, the steam rising before my eyes.  When I have that split second of awareness, that moment of saving grace or losing my **IT**.   A still small voice says “breathe”, but do I want to stomp my foot and scream “No!”?  That point of no return where I either “Hulk” their mom before their eyes and turn green in the face, or fall back onto grace that will save me from myself and what that ability to rage inside me is capable of.  Dear God, why did you have to make it so easy to go green? Moms would be so much better with your kids if you made us a little more Stepford.  Just kidding. Thank you SO MUCH for not making me a Stepford!

5. I AM NOT THE **IT**, IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT ME. Last week wore on more than just me.  Each day had it’s something for him.  Husband flew away and flew back. Locked keys in the car and had to walk miles.  He worked late every night except for the night that his car gave us fits and I had to drive across town to get him. That was his only “early” night at 9:30pm.  Then the weekend came with no rest but  side jobs to fill in for those ends that aren’t meeting at the end of this month. Then the man had hours upon hours of working on the cars and fixing his wife’s laptop so that she can write and share our the innermost whatever of our lives. This man is amazing. How did he happen to me? He wears shoes like this to work on the cars. I find myself in a lack of content because I haven’t got the color I want my shoes to be. Dumb woman. I want my eyes open. I’m only alone in this when I close them to these things.

He spent hours in these this weekend.
And after all of that, a week filled with so much struggle, it was also the most filled with grace and a surrounding of prayer and precious moments with children.  I was filled with utter shock, to be honest, and then joy at how often I found myself turning away from the edge of hysteria and losing of **IT**.  I did it! I found it!  I may not always, but I feel strength for tomorrow from what I accomplished in my heart last week. Looking back, I wonder, did I really make it through without one outburst?
I’ll take it, but I’m not applying for any awards ceremonies.  Because that was just one week. Now there’s this one and I’m not one to take bets on the future.  Just taking each day as it comes, thank you very much.

This morning, things were sailing along smoothly, for a Monday.  All were fed and dressed with bags packed and lunches made for  our two out-of-home-schoolers.  The homeschoolers were ready to begin. It’s a new week and the last one is behind me. Then after we settle in,  husband walks back in the front door with the 7 year old.  Ladies, toddlers aren’t the only ones who wait until the last minute to go in their diaper and make you late.  For those of us who are still in this diaper business with older kids….**IT** still happens. So, there I stood once again. He will be late for school, again. So will his sister.  Because of a load of **IT**.  And I’m not feeling the extreme edge of anger that I could, but I know this is another of those cross over moments.  Mondays are already hard days, do we really have to start with **IT**? Yes, apparently we do and I don’t get a choice about that. **IT** already happened.

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My choice now is in how I respond. So I walk my big boy to the bathroom trying to convince him that he DID go, but he doesn’t believe me because he doesn’t feel it or smell it. He doesn’t understand. We go through the routine, again.  And I know my words, my expression and my choices will effect how this guy feels about himself as time marches on and he is still in diapers in a year… maybe even two. Third grade? Fourth? He’s the one who has to process this. I’m helping HIM.  I can’t feel sorry for myself to still be dealing with diapers. This is not about me.

And he’s off to school. All taken care of.  Not yelled at or shamed..whew.  I made it through another change.

I’ve washed my hands 8 times. I still smell like **IT**.  Now I don’t want to drink my coffee. Gets my hands too close to my face and ruins it all for me.  Sigh…

I remember complaining when he was 4, unaware that the issue was not stubbornness or laziness. I did thinks like the Extreme Potty Training Makeover.   Why would this kid not potty train!?!?  Now, as he nears the age of 8, and we understand what he faces ( Read: A Boy And His Poop, Getting To Know Asperger Syndrome)  I have to tell you. I am thankful for his issue with  **IT**. Every time I change him is another chance to exercise my soul.  Will I go for saving grace or for losing **IT**.
And here’s the deal. God is so into hilarity. He absolutely knows my sense of humor well and my love for a bit of irony. He has quite literally  used almost 8 years of actual feces to teach me how to not to lose my **IT**.  You’ve gotta admit it.  That is pretty much awesome.  (Want more hilarity? Read: A Pathetic Tale of Miserable Hilarity, And The Quest For A Shower)

So for those of you who have asked “How I do it”, who seem to think that I have something you don’t, be aware that I spent my time Waiting For Supermom. She doesn’t exist.  I, of all people, will never reach a stake of being some kinda Mama Yoda.   And let us not forget, Yoda was 900 years old!!! That’s way more practice than  any of us will ever have.  And there’s something else to consider…..
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Notice, you never see them together,  just like Miley  Crunkis and Justin Blueberry…   There may be something to this Yoda vs. Hulk thing.  Saving Grace vs. Losing our **IT**.

I think the answer is in finding the grace that is IT, because it  IS always available. The question is not whether grace exists in our moments of  struggle with **IT**.  His grace is present in ALL of the moments.

The ones leading up to **IT**.

The moment **IT** happens.

The second we choose whether Saving or Losing…. Grace or **IT**.

And ultimately, the grace is still there….. even if you chose to lose your **IT** this time.

It’s there. Always.  You have to choose to know it, see it,  grasp it, cling to it and don’t let go. I pray that it won’t take YOU almost 8 years of daily **IT**… but if that is what it will take, I’m gonna have to pray that you be blessed with lots of **IT**.

Now, while you try to process all of that…. I’m going to go wash my hands again. I really thought I had it gone that last time.  But then, I always do and there’s always more…. Thankful for more…again.

When God’s Timing Turns Me Into a Five Year Old, Because Patience Isn’t My Thing

I was not sure if more than five people would read that last post. For someone who hasn’t read what I have put out over the past, I am aware that it doesn’t make sense.  That it may not seem like a big deal or need to be said. For me, it did.
Also, I felt strange and awkward all day like someone who passes gas in a room full of people and then has the audacity to raise their hand and claim it.
Yeah. I did that.
Then they stand there bashfully waiting to see who will gawk and head out the door and who will give the high-fives.

So, if you are reading.  ((high-five)).

I meant to write that blog post months ago. In fact, we had a plan for me to stop taking births last December and prepare for adding foster children to our home.  In the plan was freedom and time to write again. I stopped taking births, for the most part, but then life happened and after all these years of waiting and preparing….

Children didn’t happen last winter.

It wasn’t God’s timing, even if we had planned it with Him in mind, which we did. It wasn’t going to happen on our timeline.

What stinks is everyone and their sister’s best friend and cousin asking how things are going. No, it doesn’t bother me that they ask. It’s being told one more time,

It’s ok, honey… All in God’s timing…
1926658_10151991917923263_1729479179_nIt feels so dismissive, doesn’t it? There is nothing left to say once someone has played the “God’s Timing Card”. As if nothing else matters and nothing else can change this.

That’s because nothing else does and… we can’t change this. We really can’t.

These are not the words I’ve wanted to hear.  In the past I must admit that I have felt good about my ability to adapt to this “God’s Timing” business.  I have practice. Patience may not come naturally to me but I’ve had serious learning sessions.

I tried to marry a guy at nineteen. We had our future planned. I didn’t marry him until we had two years apart, not even knowing if we would speak again. We were married at twenty-three. He still is everything I needed. No way did I understand what I thought I did when we were younger.  The timing was better than mine.

I tried to have a natural birth once, twice, even an third and fourth time.  That first baby was breech with her feet down and would not budge. The second time all was well and only VBAC was discussed, until a car accident that injured my back. Permanently. That next time I was pregnant for almost forty-three weeks.  My last, I labored for forty-three hours, fourteen of that on pit.  Still, all 4 of those kids were c-sections.
ME….c-sections!!
I was the one who wanted homebirths. I was up for having 8-10 children.  Surrender makes us whole and changes who we are. I would never be who I am if I hadn’t handed the timing of my other children, and all expectation over to Him.  He knew better and His timing prepared me to serve and encourage other mothers.  I could share my story of surrender and how amazing and powerful letting go can be. His plan was what I needed.

We bought a house that was practically unlivable. The plan was to fix it up  and flip it to make a profit… to move to a farm with many babies. Then Dave Ramsey happened to us. He hit our budget like a wrecking ball and we have never been the same. We are ten and a half years out and still building this house bit by bit.  With cash.
We’re so close.  I’m going to share about that soon.  I can’t imagine having done this any other way, now that we are this far in. I am blown away by the tiny provisions that have kept us present and open with this house project.  We truly are Making Room For More.

We attended a church for eight years. In fact, we moved into the city and bought this little hovel to be a part of the building team to start it.  We were invested. The last four years  of that, I knew we didn’t  belong there. We love the people. We still visit and hold them dear.  But I knew to my core that we were not where God wanted us. I tried to leave. I begged my husband to leave. I had to wait for him to feel it, too.  It took four long years. Four.
The thing is that we never would have ended up where we are, if we had left when I asked to.  I felt anger and frustration, and that is what made me want to leave.  I didn’t understand that was God asking me to look for more and that it wasn’t about the situations as much as His plan to make me uncomfortable so I would give up on looking at people and search for the bottom line of finding Him. We joked about trying any and all kinds of denominations, in hopes of finding what He really wanted. If I went back all those years and told myself that it would be Catholic… I would have side-eyed myself and ran away.  For realz.  That took time. I am thankful for those years. We are where we are called to be.

I’ve done surrender in so many ways, with a heaping serving of Extreme Patience Makeover. I have felt like a veteran of this “all in God’s timing” business.  I thought I had it down.  Heck, I even thought I had reached a point of enjoying the unpredictability of it all.  I was all for it.

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I was wrong.  I’m still learning it. Still growing. Because in this case, I don’t like it.

At. All.

We had expected to be ready and approved over the last winter for adopting through DFCS. At least we had hoped to be. The reality is that we have gone about this in such a different way than most foster families would. Our big plans and preparation are what have dictated this longer timeline.

It’s the house. Again.

You see, we started with a 2 bedroom/1 bath bungalow of 1150 square feet.  We have added 3 bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms, an office, a laundry room, a reading nook and a storage room.  It’s substantial. It totals 1350 square feet in addition to the original house.

Why does this matter? That’s not about the adoption…

But it is.

The addition is new construct. For us to be approved to home foster children or adoptive children, we have to have a Certificate of Occupancy  from the city.  See, that would not have been a big of a deal if we had simply been renovating a home. Oops.

That is why you may know people who have done this and did it quickly. That is why our process may look confusing, long and drawn out from the outside looking in. Even dramatically so.

Yes. I am aware that I can be dramatic. Especially about this.

Once we have that approval, we are likely to have children within weeks, even days. It’s just getting that little piece of paper, and that requires passing every inspection, even the big final one. It even excavating/landscaping the back yard.  Really.

I have friends who have listened to me rage about this. I do’t know how they put up with me. I try not to, but I feel the pout and whine come on like an expectant mama who just wants that wait over and to feel the baby in her arms. I haven’t been doing the patience as well as I should.

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Friends get stuck seeing my grouchy-mama face. Often.

Thankfully, I have good friends. They are so gracious.

Ultimately, we really are not that far off track. I should be thrilled. And I am. Really I am. God’s timing seems to be about a year after what we pictured.  That doesn’t sound that bad, right? Yet it has been an up and down year of releasing our plans and trusting him, only to pick up the timeline again and forge forward with everything we have. And I mean everything.

I am Verruca Salt. I want it NOW!!

It’s not that I just want my way, and I see these children and something for ME. It’s not a selfish need for another baby. It’s that, just like a woman who is growing a baby… I am expecting.

In August of 2012 I had a earth shaking realization, a moment that hit my like a Crossfiter’s biggest kettlebell and settled with a vice grip on my heart that still remains.
I was sitting with Lil Bit playing and dreaming of her as a big sister and what that would look like. That is when it happened.

I did the math.

As I held my three year old, I realized that if we were looking at welcoming a newborn and 2-3 year old in 2 years… Now mattered.
Suddenly reality ran through my veins like an earthquake. Thunder and lighting, racing pulse. Eyes wide open.

My. Child. Could. Already. Be. Born.

My heart almost exploded and the room spun around me.  It was all at once as thrilling and as terrifying as seeing two lines after peeing on a stick. It was real.  Once I knew it, I could not undo it. A fierceness came over me that moves me forward. The whole family  feels the empty space of where those children will be.

My prayers changed. I pray for our children differently. Feverishly.  I hold my breath on holidays wondering if they have been born, if someone said “I love you” today. And if they are somewhere, who is holding them?   Is anyone? It’s cold out, are they warm?  Are they hungry?

And the one that really gets to my mama heart,

Is someone hurting them?

This is hard.

It is one thing to be waiting on a baby who is safe and sound in my uterus.  Now, I have no idea.  In all reality, considering the statistical odds… our children are not likely to be safe and sound.  We can’t do anything for them, but get this house done.

We have chosen not to go through lists of children available for adoption. There will be no adoption books to look at, and our family won’t make a cute display of ourselves to show. It is a completely different process. We don’t get to choose.

We will prepare our home to treat children like gold.  Like the royalty they are, as precious little souls with potential for greatness.

We will get a call and have only hours to pray, decide and prepare. We will take who we are given. We will fill the need.

But in doing that, we will be opening our arms to children who are hurt. They almost HAVE to be hurt to end up in the broken system that we have chosen to go through. The system that will bring them to us.  They will be removed from their natural parents. They won’t have a choice. Those parents may not have a choice.
What keeps me up at night, scheming for ways to get this house done faster, is knowing that pain and hurt will happen, for them to actually make it to our home. Pain, rejection, confusion. Abuse.   We can’t save them from that. We just have to wait to catch them when they fall into our open arms.

And it rips at me heart, but only in a way that keeps me bringing it back to God and begging him to get with the plan and hurry up. But he won’t and I know that is best. He knows that it’s best. I need to get with HIS plan.

There is some incredible good in the last year of unexpected waiting. Now that I’ve put away my pouting, I’m aware that we needed this.

Two years ago we were completely focused on the adoption aspect of this.  Now our hearts have shifted to openness for fostering to be the main goal, always with the hope that adoption is welcome.  That is a huge shift.

We are prepared to lose these children.

Do you want to know why?

I realized that they could be alive. They were having a life that I was not a part of and I could not be there for them. Do you know what that means?

It’s not about me. It’s not my story. The story belongs to these children.
It. Is. Their. Story.

So what will it feel like if we have children who are returned to their biological families after six months… after a year… what will we do?
We will cry. We will ache.  We will thank God that we got to be a part of their story, because someone was going to be.
If their story was that they would go back, it’s not about us. That is out of our control. If they were going to have that six months or a year somewhere, anywhere… it could have been with a different family. And it could have been horrible.   Maybe they will be returned to an environment that is still tragic. Maybe their future will still hold abuse that we cannot protect them from.
They still had that time. All we have is that time.  We can’t control their story. We can only present ourselves as available for them and hold an openness to loving on all terms.

Short term or long term. We are wide open for that.

These are the things we have learned, that we have processed through in this extra time.  We’ve wrestled and prayed.  We’ve waited. We’ve built a home and we are almost there.

We can now predict to have children in three to six months.

And it is safe to assume that they are alive now. Someone is.

So please don’t wait. Pray with me. Pray for them now.
And pray for all the others. The ones who won’t fit into our home.

Pray that we get this together and ready for them.  Pray that we will be strong and open when the call comes for children to be at our door in a few hours.

Because, that’s all going to happen.

In God’s timing…

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OTHER POSTS TO READ:
Pregnant and In Love – The Pitfalls of Crushing on Your Care Provider

Losing Your *IT* vs. Saving Grace (5 Thinks I’ve Learned Through 7 Years of Poop)