The Locusts

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It was almost inaudible between her sobs, a tender voice with her deepest fear.

She sounded tormented.

Anguished.

And why? Because she was a sweet mama with a challenging situation, a problem that complicated her children’s lives.  And like every mother would be in that situation, she was worried some difficulties in her life might be harming her children. Not inconveniencing them. Not disadvantaging them. Harming them.

I watched her weep and my heart broke, for her and with her because the pain was visceral and couldn’t help but spill into the room so we all felt it.

There was a familiar angst to her tone, but it took me a few minutes before I placed it, the story in my own life with similar concerns, albeit different circumstances.

“Can I tell you a story?” I asked. And when she agreed, I told her mine.

I told her of the substantial gap between our firstborn and second-born.  I told her of the infertility, of our agonizing loss.

I told her how depression and anxiety became a haze through which I lived, gradually blanketing my life, heavier and heavier, until I was nothing more than a wreck.

I told her of how it was hard to even shower some days, how I’d sit on the couch and hide in my head while I tried to manage my pain.

I told her of Gabe, his need for connection and my inability to meet him in that as fully as he needed.

I told her of his struggles–his anger, his anxieties, our conflicts and resulting chaos.

And I told her of my tears, of my shame, of how I felt like I broke my son–broke his heart, broke his behavior, broke his future.

She knew me. Our hearts met in that moment over the same deep fears.

But the reason I wanted to tell her the story…my hope.

I told her about a verse that has comforted me, a verse I claimed many times when I was at my darkest and most disconnected (and therefore most guilty) moments.

I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten.. (Joel 2:25)

It’s so beautiful to me, this image of loss and poverty and destruction being turned on its heels by the God who sees me and loves me and grieves with me and redeems me.

This, I thought, was the hope God wanted me to offer to her–these words and this verse. But as I spoke, I realized there was more, a completion to a story I hadn’t even realized had happened.  The story told itself to me at the same time I told it to her.

You see, the night before, after being out of town for a few nights, I’d called home to talk to Gabe. We hadn’t connected since I’d left and I didn’t want to let too many days pass.

I had several bits of homework to do that evening, but calls with Gabe are typically brief forays into the preteen mind, and by that, I mean I usually ask questions and he usually gives one word answers and then rushes to hang up.  No worries, I thought. I’ll have plenty of time to get to my homework.

That night, however, was different.  He sat on the phone with me for 15 minutes, eager to tell me about the random details of his ordinary day. This was epic. Innately private and more interested in how things work rather than how people relate, I expected to talk to him for about 3 minutes before he ran out of things to say. But, no. He shared. With me. The one who has wept fearful tears that my struggles had inadvertently harmed my sweet boy.

RedemptionIt had happened. And I hadn’t even realized it!

Lest you think my parenting life is perfect, it’s not. I was hollered at over dinner and one of my kids refused to eat and we’re going to have to have a group talk tomorrow about kindness and managing our own frustrations without taking them out on our siblings. <ahem> We’re getting ready to enter the teen years with Gabe, and I for sure don’t expect these next years to get easier.  But there has been a sweet restoration in the underlying fabric of our relationship that I didn’t even quite recognize until I started to tell my story a few weeks ago. And for that, I am so very thankful.

If you’re in the midst of a difficult parenting phase, I hope this encourages your heart. In fact, in the last weeks since I recognized it, I’ve come back to it several times myself when things were crazy and chaotic and confrontational at my house. Sometimes distress can be such a dark, lonely hole that seems never-ending, but this story reminded me that little by little, intentional persistence can lead to progress.

It’s the first of November, a month full of gratitude, and today I’m starting off the month feeling incredibly grateful that God restores the years the locusts ate…for me and for you, too.

Currently

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listening || to podcasts whenever I can. With homeschooling, we’re in the car far less than we were in prior years, which means I don’t have much opportunity to catch up on some of my favorites. So I squeeze in a little Happier and Sorta Awesome and Homeschool Snapshots and Read Aloud Revival and What Should I Read Next as much as possible!

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awaiting || eagerly, the start of our next read-aloud, The Phantom Tollbooth. We just finished By The Great Horn Spoon, and we all loved it! I didn’t expect to, either, which made it doubly nice. One of my favorite books, for sure!

weighing || the pros and cons of a hysterectomy. When I was pregnant with Jude and due to deliver at 35, they treated me like an old woman, with a kajillion fancy tests and a geriatric label of advanced maternal age. Hence, I’ve been feeling like an old woman since then. However, it recently dawned on me that in the spectrum of female things, 38 is actually kind of young and I could be more than a decade before I really hit menopause. Without an inordinate amount of oversharing, I’m not sure I can last that long on this monthly roller coaster. Apparently, I have suspected adenomyosis, and things are nutso around here. And yet, cut out an entire organ? That seems awfully extreme for something that will not kill me…I dunno. I don’t really have a lot of other options, though. They do in Europe. Maybe I should go to Europe…Advice?

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loving || our delightful fall. The weather is gorgeous–windows are open, blankets are up at night, and I rarely find myself lathered in sweat, which is a welcome change from summer. I don’t love Wisconsin winters, but its autumns are something to behold.

worrying || about finances. I recently and unexpectedly got laid off from my job. I wasn’t making money hand over fist or anything like that, but it was definitely money that allowed us to live more comfortably, and I’m a bit worried about making the adjustments we’ll need to make. On the other hand, however, not working until midnight for three nights a week allows me to get much more sleep, and that has already been very welcome!

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noticing || that I’m not sure I’ve worn “real” pants in…I don’t know, say, a few months? I’m afraid to try them on. It’s been all shorts and stretchy leggings all summer long. Will last winter’s clothes even still fit??? AH!

reading || Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin. It’s so, so good! I’m definitely an Obliger, and I think Tahd is an Upholder. Gabe seems mostly like a Rebel, but I think that will probably change as he gets older and less oppositional. I’ve had the book for a long time and always intended to get to it, and I’m glad I finally moved it to the top of my list.

wishing || I had the ingredients to make wassail. I suppose it’s technically a holiday drink, but I’ve always associated it with autumn. This weather feels perfect for it!

eating || a lot of chicken lately, which is unusual for me as I typically eat very little meat. But my kids like chicken, which means less complaining at meal times, and I’d far rather eat things that aren’t my favorite than deal with dinnertime battles. So, chicken it is. This was our most recent chicken dish, something we had at my inlaws’. Gabe clamored over it! And it was so easy!

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yes, he does, in fact, sleep with a disco ball on. we turn it off before we go to bed. he starts getting up after. maybe the answer is in leaving the ball on all night? party, party!

wondering || why Jude is still not sleeping through the night. We can almost put money on it–twice a night (at least), he’ll show up on my side of the bed. Sometimes, Tahd can head him off at the door if we hear the thump, thump, thump of his little feet. But he’s getting sneakier, and last night I woke up to a vague awareness that something heavy was on my leg. Turns out it was Jude’s head. Fun times.

I Didn’t Expect

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I did everything in my power to delay making a final decision, but when the calendar rolled over to Gabe’s school’s registration deadline, I begrudgingly made the call to inform them that Gabe would not be returning and we’d be homeschooling instead. I expected to feel anxious or to have to hold back tears, but I didn’t. I felt…okay.

The next week, I realized that I maybe needed to file the appropriate form with the state in advance of the district’s start date lest we somehow get caught in the truancy gray area. Our state requires homeschoolers to submit notification after the public districts begin, and I fretted that since this is our first year and we were previously out-of-district, we might fall through the cracks/get reported as truant/not have a clear contact person. So I went ahead and filed the form early, further finalizing our commitment, and that didn’t bother me much, either.

I thought I might be getting off easy on the emotional front, because it wasn’t until Tuesday night–the night when Gabe would have normally attended his school’s open house–that it hit me. And it hit me harder again on Thursday, the day our former school district started. We’re really not doing this! I thought, and not in a fond way. It was more of an isolated, lonely, oh-dear-god-what-have-we-done sort of way. My sister put it best, describing it as an entire plane of existence happening around us, but one in which we no longer existed.

It also felt heavy. I knew this to be true, but I hadn’t realized how comforting it is that my son was connected to a loving, caring community outside our family that looked out for him. I became suddenly aware that our “village” was (at least temporarily) getting much smaller–not classroom teachers to get to know him, no specials teachers to broaden his horizons, no playground and lunch monitors to help him learn to navigate different authority figures.  Tahd and I were all those things, and because I’m the one at home, mostly I’m all those things. And that felt like a burdensome load to carry.

I cried a lot last week.

Thankfully, the weekend brought with it lots of busyness and family visits and festivities to distract me from my melancholy. Granted, it also meant I didn’t get done half the things I wanted to complete before school began, but our weekend readied my heart, and I’m not sure heart readiness can be overvalued.

And now, we’ve completed our first day! I’ll write more about that later, but it…was good. This plunge seemed worth the effort. I’m sure every day won’t be so rosy, but today was, and I want to mark that down.

We did it. We are really a homeschooling family. And that is something I absolutely, positively never expected.

Here We Go, August, Here We Go!

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So…August. We need to have a discussion. I was not ready for you. You were not invited yet. This was not the plan! The plan was beach and road trip and picnics and festivals and fairs and many more lazy days.  We’ve covered about 14% of the items on my list. Cut a girl a break already!

Since there appears no stopping you, the next best alternative is to welcome you like a rabid cheerleading high school sports fan. In the case of my youth, basketball was our school’s sport of choice, and corny crowd cheers abounded. But in the interest of feeling young and energetic again, I’m hearkening back to those simpler teenage days and cheering myself on…

LET’S GO, HEIDI!

I mean that more as a kick in the everloving pants rather than a glib rah.

I know August is approaching half over, but I finally wrote down my goals for this month and thought I’d share them here. I’ve been using Lara Casey’s Power Sheets off and on this year to help me make focused, incremental progress on some of my dreams, and I’ve really enjoyed them!

monthly goals

  • set up a section in my bullet journal for encouraging quotes/verses/mantras
  • plan well for homeschooling
  • start behind-the-scenes work to consolidate blogs (more on that later)
  • establish and post AM and PM routines
  • take Isla for her (i.e. our) inaugural American Girl Doll store experience <squee!!!!>
  • come good on Gabe’s end-of-school present
  • move money into the appropriate accounts to pay the credit card bill
  • go on a date
  • try out insta videos
  • take the kids to the beach and splash pad

weekly goals

  • write
  • set up my bullet journal each week and actually use it
  • keep running (and stretching!)
  • get more sleep…how? not sure, but try

daily goals

  • speak truth over the kids and connect with them on a positive level
  • do yoga
  • meditate

What are you working on this month? Are you back to school already or are you still enjoying the lazy days of summer?

I Want A Do-Over!

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Phew! What a week! This mama is ready for a reset!

We started the week in Nashville, where I said goodbye to my sister who moved nine hours away. Very sad panda. 🙁 The return trip went a little more easily than the trip south, thankfully. Have you ever tried to caravan 4 cars and a moving van through Chicago? Hint: even harder than it sounds! lol

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I took a run the day after we came home and totally wiped out. Like, fell, flat on my front side. Just on the sidewalk, too! No tricky trail running here! This, perhaps, shouldn’t surprise me since I regularly clip my shoulders going through door frames. Really, it should surprise me I haven’t fallen while running before now! I caught my toe on a slightly elevated sidewalk square, and over I went! My hands, arms, and knee sport an attractive case of road rash, but thankfully it didn’t get any worse, notwithstanding the rip in my favorite–and now discontinued–pair of leggings.  Boo!

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In Nashville, a tooth started hurting, so I visited an endodontist. He took these fancy 3-d xrays and could see that yes, in fact, I had a tooth abscess. A tooth infection in a tooth that had already had a root canal, at that. I saddled up for a unexpected repeat round of tooth excavation and left feeling pretty numb and pretty good!

Ah, anesthesia, what a lovely thing you are!

By the middle of the night last night, however, neither “numbness” nor “goodness” described my state. Even though I’d taken pain pills around 11:00, by 2 AM the pain wracked me almost as badly as it wracked me when I was in labor with Jude. I’m not joking. At one point I actually found myself wistful for his labor because at least I got 1-3 minute breaks throughout the whole thing. This was just constant pain and throbbing. The whole side of my face was on fire! I could feel it moving up into my cheekbones and down by my ear, and I just wanted to crawl into a comfy hole and pummel my tooth out with a hammer. The stuff of lullabies, no?

Around 6 AM I took another round of antibiotics and pain pills and added some steroids to the mix. Ah, sweet rest!

Fun fact I learned–did you know if a person has nausea, a new study revealed that sniffing a swab of rubbing alcohol can often relieve it? Lucky me, I tested it out (mostly successfully) several times in the wee hours of the morning. I’ve taken all of these medications before, but for some reason, the Augmentin really did a number on my stomach, and by mid-morning I was losing my breakfast in the sink.  Ugh.

The best news, although I hesitate to call it that yet since it remains to be seen, is that after a hazy mid-morning nap, I woke up to less swelling and much less pain, a trend which has continued all day. The nights definitely seem to be the worst, so let’s reserve judgment until Friday morning, shall we? But here’s to hoping things are finally on the upswing!

Any takers for a do-over week? I could really use one!

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