Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Blooming in the Desert

The desert is home to many creatures. Depending on your view of evolution, you may believe those creatures slowly adapted to their hostile environment over time. Or, you may believe (as I do) that God created desert creatures to not only survive, but thrive, in a seemingly inhospitable environ.

Regardless of how the desert-dwellers became such, they have embraced the desert as their home. And, to them, it is home; comfortable, familiar, safe.

I am beginning to recognize that my sojourn in the desert will be longer than I expected. A dose of much needed reality was handed to me (quite gently) recently; the challenges I'm facing are not short-term, acute issues. They are long-term, chronic, never-gonna-go-away challenges that redefine normal and force me to (yet again) adjust expectations. The challenges being faced by my precious little ones aren't significant, in the grand world of "special needs." Milestones aren't being missed by much. But, they are being missed and that reality requires adjustment.

The amazing lesson I am learning, however, is that the desert really can be home. It can be familiar, even comfortable. Rest and refreshment, so difficult to find, so overwhelming look for at the beginning of the journey, have some how become not such a burden. The quiet can be peaceful rather than lonely, and the isolation helps draw attention to the incredible value of those friends who have stuck around.

A desert journey is not what I would choose. My preference is for mountain tops and secluded valleys, snow capped peaks or wooded glens; fresh water, clear air, and plenty of easy-to-aquire food. Rarely have I looked back on such experiences, though, with a deeper, stronger appreciation for the God I love and serve. The times in my life when I have learned the most about God (His faithfulness, His love, His righteousness) have been the times when He has been with me through the desert.

Surprisingly, I can honestly say that I wouldn't trade what God is teaching me for an easier journey. I wish my children had an easier journey, but even that is a source of praise to my great God; they are home with me and I can help them prepare for their own desert adventure. Jesus said that we would have troubles in this life. Then He gave the admonition not to fear, for He had overcome the world. What a great comfort.

Someone gave me the admonition (and challenge) to bloom where I have been planted. So, by God's grace, that is what I will do, right here in the middle of my desert.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Not Again...

Having parented toddlers for the last sixteen years, I have learned a thing or two about how they behave. I know, for instance, that I am bigger and stronger, so if they have a tantrum, I don't  care. I know that intentional training in the early years will make life much easier later. And I know that kids LOVE to play with dog food and water.

Having enjoyed an extended interlude since our last child found eau d'pooch so enticing, I was not prepared for the discovery I made while preparing dinner recently; my youngest  child savoring the flavor of dog food and mixing said food in the dog water.

Since I know this is a temporary stage, instead of cleaning up right away, I grabbed my camera, so I could share the humor with the world (or at least the one or two people who may read my blog). Here, for your viewing enjoyment, is my son in all his glory...

Here is baby J, enjoying the dog food just a little too much.
Hey, Mom, look what I'm doing.

See what I did? I put dog food in there. Pretty cool, huh?
I love this little man (even though he created a big mess to clean up); with all the challenges he has faced, it is kind of fun to have him acting like a normal baby. 

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Taking the Next Step (through the desert)

Someone asked me recently how my day was going. The question caught me unprepared; I honestly didn't know. But, the question got me thinking; how was my day going? So, I stopped to think about it. Kids were crying, but only one at a time. My son was asleep (and he doesn't sleep well at all), I'd started a load of laundry, dressed and changed two kids, put out a fire (literally), and fed my kids. Plus, my hubby was coming home that night, and I had recovered from being sick. So, at that point, it had been a good day.  Unfortunately, things went downhill at that point.

Though it isn't worth detailing, I was discouraged and downtrodden, beat down by the daily battle to raise eight children (two with developmental delays), manage a busy home, and keep my mind. The lure to just stop was very tempting, though all my attempts to submit a resignation have been futile; God doesn't work that way.

So, I got back on my feet and took one more step. Taking that step was huge; my situation didn't change, but my attitude did. And, I could again look back over the day and focus on the highlights, realizing that even with the challenges and difficulties, the highlights outweighed the low points, and I really did have a good day.

Sometimes the hardest part of parenting, or life, is to take that next step, the one that comes after falling down AGAIN! Instead of focusing on the failures and falls, choosing to focus on the successes, no matter how small they may seem. So, I'm choosing to celebrate the successes (kids got three meals, some laundry did get done, and everyone got dressed before the day was over) in spite of what seems like overwhelming failures. According to some wise person (on a card I once read), Success is "getting up once oftener than you fall down." At least for now, by that definition, I'm choosing success.