Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Little Things

Typically, either my husband or I pack lunches for my children before they head out the door for school. The lack of nutrition in their 31 bags is rather shocking at times-- other times we do a pretty decent job. By the end of the year, I have essentially given up on worrying what goes into their lunch.

Each day, a note is hastily written on a napkin and tucked inside. One child hides all evidence of this embarrassing tradition. I have even found it partially shredded and hidden inside of the reusable sandwich container. This morning when Greg went to throw yesterday's napkin away, my other sack lunch child stopped him. "No, I keep those. See? Here are the ones from last year in the other lunchbox. It has a special place to save them." Inside the old lunch bag were neatly folded napkins. It made my heart hurt a little.

Sometimes I don't know what to write on the napkin. Sometimes I feel removed from what their days truly look like at school--- it can be a bit of a mystery since I don't work in that building. Other times, I can write something more specific on the napkin. But whether it was a mundane, "Have a great day" or something of greater meaning, it matters to this child.

When I get busy, I can be lulled into thinking small gestures don't matter. But they do. The napkin for my "saver" child is a touchpoint to home, a reminder she is thought of and valued. To see a small pile of saved napkins is the quiet whisper to my mama's heart, "She needs these little things--they are important to her." So, I will keep writing and drawing pictures on the napkins. The napkin is what holds me back from asking them to regularly pack their own lunches. There are just a few short years left with them to do these little things while they are in my home.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Forgetting and remembering

Sometimes the day to day feels  unexciting, unimportant and predictable, which somehow translates to me feeling unexciting, unimportant and blah. As I unloaded the dishwasher this morning I found myself praying the prayer that gets offered up about every 4 months or so, "God, is this it? Is there something else I should be doing? A goal I should be setting? "

It doesn't help that today comes shortly after a failure in my personal life. That failure finds me questioning what I stand for, who I am, what God's specific plan is for me and if I'm living it out effectively. Am I saying yes to commitments for the right reasons? All of this has appeared on the ticker in my brain, slowly repeating the same questions over the course of time.

I spent some time in 1 Corinthians 12 this morning, rightly titled "The Use of Spiritual Gifts".
12:4-7, 18 "Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired."

Sometimes I try to hard to contrive my giftedness. I need to remember the varieties of gifts-- that mine looks very different from a friend's, but that it is working for the common good. I tend to question the importance of my gift, looking for validation, assurance, praise, worth. (vs 14- 24 addresses that whole can of mess).

And then when I dig around with the whole validation issue, it leads me to the question, "What do I mean to God?" When I have failed, when I feel ordinary, when I stumble in my parenting and yet consider it my main goal and task at hand-- where is my value then?

My value lies in Him. It doesn't leave because I have become distracted from remembering that point. Distracted by obligations, cliques, deadlines, late PTA forms, dirty laundry and a messy kitchen counter. Distracted by focusing on images of perfection, wishfulness in the form of Facebook posts, lack of a creative teacher appreciation gift and weight gain.

Ephesians 2:4-9 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, ...

Oh, how easily I forget. And how slow I am to remember-- but how faithful He is to remind me. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Should I Stay or Should I Go Now

I have had that particular song by Clash going through my head over the past several weeks. I put off my urge to plant flowers that I wouldn't be here to enjoy,  began to paint ceilings and called in a realtor to walk through our home. Greg and I listed pros and cons for a potential move, prayed about it, listened to the crickets chirp instead of a firm, confident answer booming from the heavens or a steady peace about one way or another, and went on listing pros and cons. The hard part about listing the pros and cons, was realizing some cons were permanent and some were temporary and to decide how much weight each one carried.

1. Less driving time
2. More family time
3. Great school
4. A coffeehouse in an old church building called "The Steeple" where I can see myself sitting on a weekly basis.
5. A Dairy Queen on the square of town, where you can hear chimes from a nearby church.
6. Perhaps getting a larger house and separating the girls into their own bedrooms.

1. Leaving our church family
--- Monticello is not a place devoid of churches. Eventually one might let us continually attend, even when Brenna interrupts the scripture reader during service to share her connection.

2. Leaving our friends
--- Monticello is not a wasteland without other people to meet and get to know. As difficult as it is to leave friends behind, we would stay in touch. Eventually local people may talk to us and even come over for dinner. Maybe.

3. Packing/moving/selling/buying a home and having more time added on to our mortgage
--- Eventually we would pay it off

4. Joy leaves behind her jobs.
---Maybe the funeral home in Monticello would hire me. Maybe I could continue to sub in a different district--- or maybe I will sit and eat Dove chocolates.

4. Leaving Armstrong Program
And here came the deal breaker. While Greg was in Montana, I attended Brenna's IEP meeting. At age 14 for students, new questions are posed to parents: "Where will Brenna live after she finishes school? What kind of a job do you want her to have? What kinds of skills would you like her to have as an adult?" And the weighty reality clicked into place at the boardroom table: we weren't just deciding on a new school-- we were deciding on the rest of her life.

We know what services we have (at least for now, until cuts are final from Springfield) for a day program as an adult, for equestrian therapy, movement therapy, Camp New Hope for summer daycamp, etc. We know what friend we can call if we need someone to watch Brenna for a brief period of time.

Monticello is in Piatt County, which means we would not access her services as an adult through Champaign (and Champaign County) but through Decatur.

Maybe it was because Greg was gone for 8 days out of state. Maybe it was because I was tired of painting the ceiling and I hadn't even been painting very long. Maybe it was because the two houses I was excited to see sold the day before I went to look at them at a scheduled walk through with a realtor. Maybe it was because I was tired of trying to think 3 steps ahead. For all of these reasons and more, when he and I spoke on the phone, I told him I just didn't think we should do it. It was his call-- but this was my 2 cents to take or leave.

We're staying.

Part of me is happy to be staying and part of me has mixed emotions. I hate that he has such a long drive.  If it was just a decision based on Greg, Sam and Emily--- I know without a doubt our home would be on the market and we would be moving forward with relocating. But the thing is, decisions sometimes hinge on one person. I always said Brenna would be a part of our family unit and that decisions would be made that were best for all. Sometimes it just isn't that easy. I see the gains that she has made this school year, the pride she takes in her projects and accomplishments, the way she now insists, "I want to do it by myself" and the confidence she is exuding. I don't want to take that from her.

The ceilings are painted about 1/4 of the way through the house. The sections that are painted look great. The rest look like a heavy smoker spends time in that part of the home. I'm not sure if I have it in me to finish--- the way I see it, I don't tend to walk around looking up. And it's so nice outside. So instead, I'm opting to plant some flowers and enjoy the view from my backyard.