Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bedtime Bible Story

Saturday night I was home alone with the bugs as Allan was out all day with friends. Even though Elaina was overtired and Emily was getting sick, we had a sweet Bible and Devotional time before bed.

The story was about Job. I've heard it a million times. I've read it all the way through a few. I've even read a personal account about a women who lost a child to Mitochondrial Disease (Holding On To Hope) and how Job relates to her life and understanding of God.

There we were all snuggled together and reading about Job in one of our Children's Bibles. (My First Study Bible- Tommy Nelson Books)

" Why Good People Suffer. I am Job. I loved God very much and always tried to please Him. God was good to me. He gave me a large family, a beautiful home, and many nice things. Then my problems began. I lost everything I had, even my family. My friends told me that God was punishing me. But I knew better. When you have trouble remember my story...and trust the Lord."

The title was "I'm Glad I didn't give up on God." In simple terms so kids can get it, and grown ups to, it went on to tell the story. One after another a messenger came to tell Job about overwhelming loss. Catastrophic, actually. His wife wanted Job to curse God and die. Job refused. He was tested by God. He remained faithful and persevered. He was Blessed over and over.

When we walk with God, life will never be peaches and cream and happy all the time. Living is hard. Earth is tough. There is joy to be found and happiness to be had. When God gives us Good we are so ready to praise His name. When the going gets tough, we've decided that He has turned His back on us. That He's Forsaken us. Yet the Bible says, " I will never leave you or forsake you."

When we walk through the fire, we are molded and changed. It takes heat to melt the hardness of our hearts. The ugliness of our souls. When we cool, we can have a beautiful luster, if we allow Him to work within us.

The "Think about This" section at the end read: "When good things happen to you, do you thank God? When bad things happen to you do you blame God? Job could have blamed God for all the bad things that happened to him. But he didn't. He loved God and Knew that God loved him, too. We should thank God for everything we have."

After Eric died, I became pregnant with twins. For a long time I thought it was because God was showing off to the medical world by saying, "Look, you think you know everything with all your research and knowledge, but here's some twins. I can do anything." Years later my Mom told me that God gave me twins because He loved me. Still brings me to tears when I think about it. I remember that He told me that someone else was supposed to join our family. Along came Elaina.

Eric and Ava were an expression of His love too. Through them I think I learned just how much a mother can love her children. And how free I am to love the bugs on earth.

Somehow we feel like we are entitled to happiness and an easy life. We aren't. Somehow we think that when God is in control of our lives the struggles are absolved. Not so.

I scares me to think about all we have left to loose on this earth. All the trouble that can come. Then I look and see all He's done for us even in the darkest times. Clearly I am not thrilled with the path He has lead us down. The thing is that He is leading and whether or not I am thrilled, angry, happy, or sad, He is in charge of it so I can deal with it. Sometimes it doesn't seem like it, but I know God has our best interests in mind. So I hang on to that as I watch my bugs stretch and change. I hang on to that as Allan and I do too.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

It's Oh-Fish-al

Well, I am here to tell you that the prayers are working. We are all a little more settled. Which is amazing since we've been really really hot this week. For the 3rd time in 6 weeks our A/C broke. It is now temporarily fixed. Unfortunately we need a new one. There is a laundry list of things we need to replace in this house. The problem is that we can't get to them b/c of the things that need help that we weren't expecting. I am trying not to let it set me off too much. Sometimes I am successful in that, sometimes not really. At least I'm trying.

Our big news is that little Miss Elaina Bug is OH-Fish-ally BIG! As Allan said she somehow decided that it was her idea and that was that. We are Oh-Fish-ally proud of her. She decided that now that she is big she can go to Emily and Alexa's Sunday school class and sit in the third row in the mini van with them. So cute. I won't lie and say that there isn't a little twinge when I think that I don't need to buy diapers, wipes and all that paraphernalia anymore. What Mommy doesn't look forward to that day, but feels sad that the baby is growing up? This is just one of those things where if it were 2008 I would be looking gleefully ahead to this step. In 2009 I would have been counting down to how many more kids I have left to train. In 2010 I am glad to be done and wish I still had more to go (well, sort of I really do think potty training is of Satan.)

Tomorrow we are having our first official Board meeting of the Eric and Ava Benton Joy-Hope Foundation. Not sure what emotion to assign to that (excited, nervous, bittersweet?).

I think now I am looking forward to stringing together a couple of less complicated days. That sounds good to me.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Free Fallin'?

What a whirlwind week. There were so many good things wrapped inside it. A week ago we celebrated my birthday, then on Wed. Allan and I celebrated our 9th anniversary and of course Sunday was Father's Day. Friday marked 6 months since Ava died.

I have to tell you it's been really really really hard for me lately. I am hoping all the events of last week are the reason for the set backs. When you are sad and you have to face a day where you are expected to be happy the opposite happens. The fact that you are not in face happy is highlighted and in bold. But you have to try, you have kids. So you press on through the day, for them and hopefully for you too.

All that emotion has to go somewhere. It has to get out. So you crash. As you crash you think, OK maybe this will help so I can get out of the funk. Nope. Still need to crash. When you are at the end of your rope you wonder if everyone stopped praying for you. Where did all that lovely support and help go? You feel abandoned.

You get a text. You go shopping with some friends after the kids are in bed. You are no longer in free fall.

You see people at work. You check facebook. You hear that there are people out there praying and you have been relentlessly on their minds lately. You needed that.

Some days, weeks you need to crash. You NEED to fall apart. It's how you get rid of the cobwebs and keep going. Even when I wonder where everyone went. Where God went. I know that I need to feel what I'm feeling. It just hurts to do it. It aches so much. But I am not doing it alone. I know that God will never abandon me, no matter how mad or sad I get. He's right there. Allowing me to feel so that I can live and feel as the clouds dissipate.

I'm watching these same things happen with the bugs and Allan too. All 5 of us have hit a rough patch. We miss Ava. I am starting to realize that I miss 2 kids. Sometimes it's too much for me to handle and take. It's coming in dribs and drabs. As much as I can handle.

So if you wouldn't mind. We have much happening around here and we are needing a little extra prayer to stay strong and convicted in what God wants us to do. I am currently wanting to run, hide and play ostrich. I want it all to go away. I know that's not what we are called to do. But I am tired (exhausted actually) and frustrated with myself and my ability to Mommy and Wife and Amy. Truth? I am mad that I am in this situation and not patient with the process.

More later. I think I will go to bed at a reasonable hour tonight.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The intellectual side of me knows that when kids start to misbehave then it's usually a symptom of something else going on. Either they don't feel well, or something is array in their minds/bodies. Or it's because they are not getting their needs met by their parents.

The problem is that once the cycle starts we start putting out fires and get sucked into reactive parenting, not proactive parenting. Guess where we wind up most of the time?

The other day I dropped what I was doing and decided to play with them. Then I had to extricate myself and make dinner for our sitter to put in the oven while I was at work. The bugs asked if I could come back an play. I told them that I'd love to, but I needed to get dinner made and ready for work. There may not be enough time.

As I was scurrying around the kitchen I overheard the bus saying, "Mommy hasn't played like that with us for long." Alexa then said, " That's because of Ava." They weren't manipulative or angry. Just talking.

I won't lie. It pierced me. I know it has not yet been 6 months since Ava died. But they don't understand why their Mommy is emotionally unavailable sometimes.

Here is the cycle: I have a good day. I need to get things around the house done. I get tired and the good day is gone. I hit a bad couple days and I walk around in circles overwhelmed by what needs to be done around the house or any progress I made is undone. I hit a good day.....

What I need to do is make sure that when I hit a good day, I play with the bugs. I enjoy them. I make them realize that no matter how much it stinks that their brother and sister are not with us we are here and we are important. I need to make them feel special. I love to feel special. They do too.

So I am trying to break the reactive parenting cycle that is so easy to fall in to, even when life is hunky dory. My bugs have always done better when I am on top of it. With God's grace I will be able to have moments, days and eventually be able to sustain being on "top of it".

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Traffic Jam

I can't believe how debilitating thoughts can be. My mind has been so consumed lately I feel like I am spinning my wheels. I have ideas about the Foundation, as well as a hefty to do list. There are book ideas and bracelets (which now include rings and necklaces). There are ideas about advocacy and support.

These all seem compartmentalized, but they really seem like they will link together under one umbrella The Joy-Hope Foundation. I really don't know the how's but I feel it. I go but gut a lot so I'm gonna keep on with this one.

Of course there are the basics of daily life- three little ones who seem to think that if I am sitting, they need to be on top of me and jockey for position. Laundry, food, housing projects, bills, yard work, shopping and little tiny pieces of EVERYTHING all over the house. Then there is the fun of summer to go out and snatch.

Each thing is all normal things of life. We paint pictures and objects. But when we do it I ask a question like,"how many kids do I have?" as I try to get the right number of plates for palette making. Three little ones shout, "THREE!" One little bug says, "Mommy, but you used to have 5." I say, "But it's OK to have 3 right now." And a painting we will go.

When my mind is so crammed, I find that I literally walk in circles. Stop halfway through something and take a break. Then I get annoyed with myself and my abilities to complete anything. I take a step back. I pray. I ash God for His timing and patience while I wait.

I then find that I have to keep it moving. Something happens and a string of half thoughts/ideas gets pulled together and we are off and running with all lanes open. Sometimes the speed limit is slower than others. Sometimes I wish the posted limit would be slower. What we are setting out to do is big. It's hard not to see how it's going to form, knowing that it is.

All of it is in God's timing. If I know anything my timing is not remotely correct and His is perfect.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Deleting Cookies

My mind has been so consumed lately I have no clarity. I'm not sure what is going on. But I find that I am simply spinning my wheels. I am in a period when I feel like I am seeing through the mundane and frivolous and am focused on God, His nature and how limited we as people are.

I see that all of our bodies are broken and are breaking. I see that we all have chains that bind us and hold us back from truly feeling free and experiencing what this life has to offer. It's those little things someone said to us when we were little that resonate. It's the tone that a positive thing was said but became misconstrued. These barriers keep us from living out loud. Living a genuine life.

Why do we feel the need to keep up pretenses? Follow in cookie cutter decorum? What is holding us back from breaking that mold and radiating the potential that God has for each of us?

The things in my mind that are holding me back are bubbling to the surface and being revealed to me. Each one I recognize and feel really stupid when I see how unfounded or misinterpreted it truly is. If you want to accomplish goals, you can not set yourself up to fail. I am trying to dust off my cobwebs and face that which holds me back.

By holding on to those things which bind you, life is crimped, tunnel visioned. We need to look beyond the skeletons and see that we can "Soar on the wings of Eagles" if we allow God to clean out the cookies in our minds. You know all those things that clog up our minds and slow our functioning.

Oh wouldn't my psych professors be so proud of me as I describe self-actualization!

My cookies? Thinking I can't do something because it's hard. Thinking that it's not worth it. So why try.

There are so many reasons to not try. So many things that can go wrong if we put ourselves out there and try something new. Ohhh we may even be rejected. Here's the deal. If we don't put ourselves out there, we'll never know. If we don't follow the path God has for us we will never be free.

I am not saying that the road is easy. Most often it's not. But I long to break free from my cookies and soar with God. I try, I succeed. I try, I fail. I feel discouraged, I keep pressing on. (OK so "Tubthumping" by Chumbawamba just popped in my head "I get knocked down, but i get up again...." Great now I'm going to sing that for the remainder of the day.)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Water Tables, Slip-N-Slides and Kayacks

I hate to mention the word......quiet......the bugs are still sleeping. They are in the basement in a double bed. Our A/C broke yesterday so they get a change of pace. You would think they were moving down there for a couple weeks! They got their jammies and their clothes for today and packed them in their play freezer that is now doubling as a dresser. At least their clothes will be cool when they get dressed. It is HOT in this house.

This weekend proved to be a mixed bag for us. We really had some wonderful family time and got a couple things that needed to be done checked off the list.

We explaining Memorial Day to the bigger bugs while Lain was bouncing around nearby. You should have seen their faces to realize that people fight for our freedom (what's freedom Mommy?) and die so we can have it. There was some awe, humility, and sadness mixed in. I can't blame them. I am so very honored to live in a country where some are called to fight for us and lay down their lives for the things we enjoy.

The bugs and I hit the road to go pick up dinner on Sat. night. (We were going to debut the new grill as ours rusted over the winter, but Daddy didn't get it together until after dinner time. You know they tell you one hour assembly and it turns in to 5???) Elaina was telling me that she drew Ava and she is so cute. I told her she was so cute. Then she turned to Alexa and said, " I just wish Ava could come back to us." Alexa chimed in, "I do too." Emmy then said, "I wish she could too." I certainly agreed. It's moments like those that I find touching. Unifying.

We took the Bugs kayaking for the first time this weekend. Now they are hooked. There is something so peaceful about being out on the water and looking around at what God created. There is something very adorable about my little ones in life jackets and wind in their faces.

At home we played with our water table, slip-n-slide knock off for $6.99 (gotta love a sale and a gift card!). We found ant hills, baby bunnies and discovered that the bluebirds have babies in their nest! Our beans, zucchini, cucumbers, peas, lettuce, potatoes, onions, cantaloupe, watermelon are up in the garden. One of our tomato plants has a tiny tomato. (Elaina what color tomatoes do we ONLY pick? "RED!!!!!!!!!!!" ") The bugs smell like sunscreen.

We had a cook out with my parents and brother that ended with a fire pit fire, marshmallows and Grandma's Peach Pie. As we were saying goodbye to everyone, I realized that I was happy. I had a good day, all day. I felt free of the ever-present grief. It was so so nice.

Yesterday we flew the flag, proudly. We picked up the toy room in the basement, at the instruction of my brother in law, I tired to assess the A/C/Furnace. Did laundry, made bracelets and rings and was surly. The bugs and Allan spent most of the day outside. I hid.

We finally got around to taking the crib down, while the bugs were chillin' in the cool basement. Before we brought it down to store, we joined them and told them what we did. Alexa (who was standing on the toy bench in a hat, sunglasses, a dress and a feather boa-she was a rock star of course-was holding court to the more tamely dressed, pretty princesses) stopped and got sad. Emmy stopped and got sad. Then they each said, "Well, I just wish that Ava could still be sleeping in that crib." We snuggled. They decided to help Daddy carry it and put it away. We Benton's are a team.

I found an ugly truth. I am not able to deal with heaps of stress. I retreat or get angry. kids in each other's business + a broken A/C and I am at my limit. I begin to worry about money, scheduling, etc. Then bam! I am so angry about how Ava was treated at the hospital by some of the physicians that it affects my interactions with my children. I am quick to anger and my temper is short. It's like if they tap into what would usually bother me, annoy me, it opens up a big loud voice. I am ashamed and frustrated with it. I don't want to be this way. I hate that I am and that they have a Mommy that is like that.

Last night our Bible story was about Moses loosing his temper and not obeying God. Allan asked the bugs if they ever lost their temper. "No". I said, "Do you know what temper is?" a chorus of, "No!" Daddy explained. Alexa said impishly, "yes". I then told the bugs that I lost my temper and I apologized to them.

It's so hard. You talk in a loud voice to be heard, and it taps into emotion that is just right there. Sometimes I don't even know how right there it is. I ask God to help me. What I need to do is forgive those who harmed my child. It's a tough one.

I just asked Dumbo to let Em, Lex and Lain know the A/C guy is coming in a half an hour so can they get dressed. I was just delivered cake and pizza too. I guess my day is off and running!