Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Resolution Journey

It appears to be that time of year again.  The commercials are in full swing, the end caps at the stores are displaying weight loss items, self help books, and all sort of gimmicks to help you achieve your NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS.  I know little about this tradition, but I know that I don't think that I have ever kept one new year resolution.

After coming home from the hospital, just days before a new year was to begin, the traditions of setting a resolution struck me as odd.  I had just spent five and a half months away from my home.  I found a new room that my family called home.  I spent most of my days hanging in an ICU praying my baby would live to see another day.  Now, finally at home, I have this child that I am trying to figure out what to do with.  Looking around the living room, new pieces of medical equipment was scattered all over.  There were cords and paperwork and phone numbers and burp clothes and feed pumps, it was not at all how I envisioned bringing my child home. 

The problem, it did not matter.  It did not matter what I envisioned, this is how God had planned it and at was perfect.  She was home and not much else mattered than that!  Praise God that for the first time in months, we were all under the same roof.  Praise God, the first time in months we could sit as a family without nurses and machines interrupting our thoughts and conversation.

I realized then that a new year resolution actually takes you on a journey.  I don't believe it is about the end result but the journey that you took, what you learned, who you are now, and what was taught to you that is the most important thing.  I realized that we are missing out by focusing on the end result when it is the journey that counts.

When I first heard of Lydia's diagnosis, Down syndrome, I was given a poem called Welcome to Holland.  Maybe you are familiar with it but it talks about wanting to go somewhere and you end up in Holland.  It is not where you intended but it is not bad.  Things are different, but there is just as much beauty and majesty as the other place.  While at first you may compare where you wanted to go to Holland, eventually you settle into your new life.

It is the journey that means the most.  Yes, I was nervous about many things with Lydia.  I have to say that her medical issues has overshadowed many of the typical doubts about Down syndrome.  However, now that we are transitioning into not as sick of a child, there are more and more things about Down syndrome that creep up and leave me in a place I don't like to be.  However, it is not the end result, it is the journey, the learning process, the shaping and the molding that is the most important piece to learning about your new surroundings, learning about where God has placed you.

There are many times that I sit and I compare Lydia to the other girls.  I know I shouldn't, but I do.  However, I realize more and more that Lydia is who she is suppose to be.  She may never intend to be the brightest scholar in the world, she may never be a six foot tall basketball player.  But she can teach you about joy, about simple things, about love, about laughter, and about being cute.  Some things are very similar to Ellen and Allison and others are completely different.  And that is just fine.  She is right where God wants her to be.

So, if I were to set new year resolutions for last year it would have been to read the Bible in a year and to lose weight.  Here is my take on both of them.  While I am currently losing weight, I probably have gained more weight than I have lost!  I will end the year on being three months behind in my read through the Bible in the year.  Does that mean that I have failed?

NO!  What I have learned is more valuable than accomplishing those resolutions (if I would have set them!).  I may have not finished my read through the Bible in a year, in a year.  However,  I do believe that God gave me the verses that I needed exactly when I needed them.  I know that I made a very diligent attempt at finishing in the year and I was leaps and bonds ahead of where I was the year before.  But, I also know that my personal relationship with God strengthened a lot simply because I was being more obedient.  No one success all of the time the very first time around.  I am not perfect, but I have created habit.  I am proud of myself for where I am.  See the process of teaching myself to be obedient to get up early and read the Bible, to put my relationship with Christ first, to realize how much better I function when I am walking in God's way, is much more valuable than saying I completed the Bible.  It was more than completing a check list, it was about walking a journey, learning and exploring my relationship. 

My weight.  It has been a battle for a long time.  I, however, do not want to get on a diet craze and crash.  In my life, I also know that food runs much deeper than just another new diet.  Feeding is always a struggle with Lydia.  I have learned so much about food and what it is used for for our body.  I have learned healthy ways of eating and managing stress.  I have learned why God made for and the purpose.  I have also learned a lot about faith.  Faith in God that He will provide, He will teach, and He will allow success in His time.

I can't quite put into words all of the things that I have learned myself about eating, but I know that I am in a good place.  Yes, I have lost weight and I have lost inches, but the most important thing that I have gained is a new perspective.  A new perspective on life and weight.  My weight did not just come on in a year and it represents pain and stress and running away from problems.  I knew that I needed to deal with a lot of that before I was able to successfully change my lifestyle and learn things in moderation.  I also learned that I need to know this so I can teach my children very healthy habits and deal properly with Lydia and her feeding issues.

I have to say that right now I am not be any thinner than when I started off last year, but I am healthier in so many ways.  I am in a great position physically and mentally (I'm in a good routine of getting exercise and managing stress, and eating for the purpose of nourishment and not just pleasure, I also am managing the stress of feeding Lydia much better).  It was a process to learn this, to unlearn what I had been taught and obedience to step forward.  This is an important step if I want to do this properly and honor God.  I can truly say I am happy with this progress.

Maybe none of this makes sense, maybe it makes perfect sense, but to me the new year resolution craze is silly.  Lydia and the life of Down syndrome has taught me that my expectations are only that.  Things and situations in life will happen, they will change you, and they will take you on unexpected paths.  By being stuck in one thought of thinking, you rob yourself of the journey; the most important part of your life.

I have found too, that some journeys are very difficult.  Sometimes you may think that you will be a mom for your entire life and your child dies suddenly, leaving you empty handed and on an unpredicted journey of grief.  You may think that you will have a healthy child and you learn about the diagnosis and it takes you on a journey of living life in the hospital, not knowing what will happen from day to day, it will stretch you and teach you and your path will look much different. 

No one can tell their path from day to day.  God has the entire picture and He is working everything for our good.  What I have learned about new year resolutions is to enjoy the journey.  Things often don't happen in a year and your path will more than likely take an unexpected curve or dip, but that is OK.  Learn, embrace, have faith, and hope in God that you are walking this path to be the person God intended you to be.

I pray that this year I can continue to fully embrace everything about having a child with 47 chromosomes, that I can continue to embrace the feeding journey and rock, and that I am obedient to God and the path that He chooses for me.  Here's to another year of Resolution Journey!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

You Were Chosen

I was chosen for this journey.  This journey was thought out, carefully crafted and given to me.  This is my story, this is my life.  I have had thoughts in my head over and over about this chosen life.  I have many different thoughts that make perfect sense, but when I come to type there is nothing.  Yet, I have a push inside to write about this chosen path for me. 

I would have never thought that I would be sitting in these shoes, but I can't imagine my life any differently.  I would have never thought that I would want to care for another human being the way that Lydia requires, but I am lost when I am not caring for her.  What I never thought I wanted, I ended up needing and that is why I was chosen.

God does give us more than we can handle.  And that is because we were not meant to handle it on our own.  We were never meant to walk this life by ourselves, but with God front and center.  With God, all things are possible.  We have greatly confused that image.  I have learned that too many times to count on this journey.  I have seen what happens when I handle things by myself and I don't put God first.  It is always better when God is caring me, when He is helping me, when I am seeking His advice.  Without that, I fail, I struggle, and I mess up big time.

As stressful as the days are, as frustrated as I get with Lydia, as much as I question if I am doing anything right, as much as I struggle with advocating for Lydia; this is what I was meant to do.  This is where God wants me and He has a purpose.  While I may question and I may not understand, He sees the entire picture.

Our life is like a puzzle.  We can only see one piece at a time.  We are not able to see the entire picture.  We fumble and we fail trying to find our place.  We think we fit here and then something else comes up and we find that was not the right place.  Sometimes our pieces are so dark and it seems near impossible to be able to even attempt to find where the piece fits.  Sometimes we work on one side of the puzzle when we should be at the exact opposite corner. 

God, however, sees the entire picture.  He has created a masterpiece and we must trust in His plan that He will finish the good work He started.  He knows what the picture on the box looks like.  He knows where every piece fits together and He knows how they fit together.  We don't have to fumble around trying to find our place, He will guide us.

Even when we are in a dark place, the light will come soon and it will be glorious.  But we must not give up because each and every piece is needed to make the final masterpiece.  He works everything for the good of those who love Him.  Every trial, every dark spot, every circumstance all has purpose and meaning in His timing and in His plan.  We are not meant to understand but to trust and to allow Him to create us to be the servants He wants us to be.

As I have struggled a lot lately, I have thought over and over about this.  It is so true but so hard.  I think back to days before Lydia and that seems like such a long time ago.  Sometimes I cringe to think of the person I was before her.  Sometimes my life now is so much a part of who I am, I cannot fathom that life anymore.

The daily tasks of Lydia have been wearing me down.  Feeding her, trying to figure out what she will eat, making sure she gets enough to eat, juggling her health and education, managing her doctor appointments and her therapy appointments.  Trying to make time to have her just be a kid.  Trying to parent two other girls and making sure I am meeting their needs.  Trying to put time in on my marriage to make sure that is healthy (if that is not healthy than none of my other relationships with my kids are healthy).  And trying to find quiet time to study God's Word and let Him pour himself on me (I often struggle with this, but this is the most important part of my day).  And then with whatever little time is left, I try to work on me (keeping fit, eating right, taking time just for me, exploring hobbies).

This is the path that was chosen for me.  I have to remind myself of that every single day.  Some days I struggle with it.  Some days I want to curl up and cry.  My child is so far behind.  That is a hard pill to swallow at times.  I compare her to other kids with Down syndrome and see that she is even farther behind than they are and I wonder if I am doing everything that I should be doing.  I know I shouldn't do that, but this is reality.  I want the best for my child and sometimes I think that love is not enough (I know that's a foolish thought, but it's true).  **She is also on a chosen path, just for her.  She was not meant to have 46 Chromosomes, she was meant to have 47.  She was not meant to have a "normal" anatomy.  She is right where God wants her and she is teaching others about self confidence, happiness and true joy.  She also is right where she is meant to be!

Sometimes when we are sitting in a room with many doctors and we are trying to figure out what is wrong with Lydia, I feel like I am crazy.  They shake their head, knowing something is not right, but there are no answers.  When there are no answers I question myself, my ability, and wonder if this is all just made up.  I doubt when I should not.  But it makes me go crazy trying to think about what to do next.  I know people around me have given me those stares and seem to whisper behind me (I think this is probably just my insecurity but this is what I feel).  I try to convince myself I am crazy.  When in all reality, I am doing what God wants me to do.  He alone has placed me on this path and if I am looking to Him and following in His ways, then I should not doubt.

This is the life that was chosen for me.  With God's help I can overcome these doubts and insecurities, I can rise and become the very best mom to all of my girls; just as God chose me to do.  With God's help I can be the very best wife to my loving husband and I can be a faithful devoted disciple.  It is possible; but not on my own.

And to look to someone else's journey and judge is not fair either.  They were chosen for something different.  I feel like if I could understand this better, I may be able to help someone out and I may not feel so judged.  I don't think I ever expect someone to understand my journey, but I should not then try to understand someone else's either.  I can share my story in hopes that someone might be going through the same things and can get hope from my path. 

Sometimes it does feel lonely.  I have seen it all too often people pull away because they don't understand, they are scared of your circumstance, or because you have changed.  However, we must remember we all go through seasons and God gives us the blessing of true friends.  God is also always there for us.  He will never leave us nor forsake us.  Mary and Elizabeth in the Bible were given similar circumstances and they could support one another.  While God is the ultimate hope, it never hurts to have earthly friends for support and help.

But sometimes I forget that I was chosen for this journey and not someone else.  I am quick to judge and pass judgment.  I am quick to feel alone and I try to handle things on my own.  I forget I have the ultimate friend, I have unconditional love, I have forgiveness, grace, mercy, discipline, and if I am willing to obey Him, He is willing to bless me.

On this journey, I was chosen to learn certain things, not anyone else.  On their journey, they were chosen to learn their own things.  However, I can come alongside someone and be a friend, I can encourage and I can help.  I have to remind myself of this because I can get wrapped up in my own circumstance very easily.  I have to remember to continually seek to glorify God in every situation and circumstance.  I also have to remember that I am only accountable for my actions, so I better continue to look at myself and see how I can improve on me.

And because I was chosen I am a better person, I have learned some amazing lessons, I have faced some very unthinkable situations, I have been tested to my max, and I have failed, and I have been blessed.  I have changed who I am, how I think, how I love, and I have become a better person; all because I was chosen.

For me, it was one special child that God gave me so I could learn these lessons.  Sometimes I have to remind myself over and over and over in the heat of pain, frustration, anger, exhaustion.  But in the end, to see that smile, to feel her hug, and to watch her progress is such a blessing.  It really is all I need.  And when my eyes are rightly fixed on Him, I can look on even the hardest time and bring Him glory because He loved me enough to choose me to be right here!