Saturday, November 06, 2021

When the wheels come off

As I sat alongside the highway with flashers on awaiting the tow truck, I laughed out loud, my eyes simultaneously filling with tears. The ridiculous absurdity of the situation coupled with the various outstanding details that made it a remarkable (miraculous?) event in it's own right... but, no, more than that it was the culmination in that moment of so much that 10 weeks can hold, and has held. 

We were finally able to procure the protozoa treatment for Lochlan, after 8 weeks of arguing with the insurance company. However, during the strength of the protozoa wreaking havoc inside of his intestines, he began a set of fixations that have escalated to now intolerable habits of existence. For almost 2.5 months he has been intentionally missing the toilet, pooing in every place except the toilet, and then intentionally smearing the rest. Because the protozoa has given him diarrhea most of the time, it has also given him the magnificent ability to go multiple times a day (6-9). We have discovered poo on the floors from the bathroom to the front door, in the showers, sinks, on the walls, in our beds, on mirrors, on pictures, on books, on toys, in the dryer with clean clothes, on my shoes, on door jams, in my hair, on the outside walls of our house, in the inside garden, and so many more places. We have tried to discipline him in ways that will be profound to him, but to absolutely no avail. 

I have been pondering a great deal on the subject of suffering, perseverance and on trying to understand the challenges that this broken world gives us all so abundantly. I profoundly believe that suffering is not for nothing. We each have the unbearable thrown at us in some form that is particularly challenging to our unique personhood. Though others can walk alongside us in the journey, through the treachery, and help pull us through the bogs, the burden - whatever it may be - is ultimately owned and born by our own heart. The crushing frustrations, fears, pain, and suffering can cast shadows on those we love, who walk alongside us, but the weight belongs to the one who ultimately carries it. And sometimes, the weight is too much. It forces us to face our own infallibility and weakness and our absolute reliance on someone much greater. 

Sometimes the tears fall without much control or resistance. They are always unwelcome and unwanted, but somehow they come. 

While Madigan was in Austin he contracted a virus which he brought home to share with everyone else. So, each of the kids has been sick in sequence. 

Then, Kris lost his job and we subsequently lost our investment opportunity in Colorado which we had been pursuing for almost 8 months. 

So, once the kids were well, and Lochlan had completed his treatment, we decided to take a family road trip which we have been wanting to do for some time. We purchased two tiny trailers to pull with our two small SUVs, arranged for Kaysee and Max to look over the farm for us and hit the road. Within 4 hours on the road, I developed a rabid case of conjunctivitis in my right eye and a fever. By the morning of our first night camping I could no longer open my eye. We made our way to Salt Lake City, UT where we were able to find a BNB for the night and get into an Urgent Care to try to get medication for my eyes which were now both infected. Lochlan was a tyrant at the BNB, and at the point when he rushed out the back door with an office chair from the downstairs living area to toss it into the pond, I started to laugh and cry at the same time (again).The following day we made our way to the upper part of Idaho. 

Then, the wheel fell off the tiny trailer I was pulling. We had stopped for gas and were entering the on-ramp when the trailer went careening left and the car top carrier fixed to the top of it went flying onto the shoulder (from the impact, presumably). I was able to get to the shoulder enough to allow other cars to go by and Providentially, there was a police officer assisting another motorist less than 1/4 mile from me. He saw the whole incident and immediately came over to assist. We had procured a tow truck and gotten the trailer towed to a tire shop within an hour. The officer said that if I had been on the highway when it happened, I very well may have flipped the vehicle. Though the event was inconvenient, to be sure, the miraculous in it all is not lost on me, and I am incredibly grateful. The hub on the trailer was cracked, so we opted to leave it at the shop until we return in a few weeks and we proceeded onward toward Oregon, our final destination. Lochlan has continued to make our journey complicated and difficult and this morning I woke up feeling the wall of exasperation in front of me, again. 

I've had moments of weary that crawl into my very bones in the past couple weeks. "Scary tired" as the boys call it. It's a fatigue that is not (really) caused from lack of sleep. It's the mounting frustration(s) and the sense of being trapped that they strangely create, the relentless challenges piled upon one another, and ultimately the nagging sense of dread for what may lay around the upcoming corner. Yesterday, as I stood beside the car, looking at a nearby mountain, Madigan walked up, placed his hand on my arm and said, "Mom. remember suffering is not for nothing." Will Lochlan find true healing and become functional in all the real ways? He may not. But, it is hope that helps us to arise in the mornings and face whatever is thrown upon us in each day, to climb the mountains, to see the sunrises. Hope is so vital to our existence, as humans.

When I get discouraged (which is often these days), looking at the details of His Creation remind me that this life is but a moment in time. It allows us the opportunity for the refining of our hearts and for the cultivation of our understanding of love - the greatest love.    

Tuesday, October 05, 2021

Conversations with a Giraffe

Madigan has been visiting his aunties in Austin for the past week... it's crazy how slowly time can creep by when you're missing someone you adore. :-) He's had such a fulfilling week, getting to fly alone for the first time, seeing the best of "old friends", cousins, aunties and so much more. I think it was important timing for this solo journey of his. 

He is a man trapped in a boy's body and also still very much a boy somewhat threatened by the man within. This dichotomy creates a great deal of frustration both deeply internal and also frequently erupting on the very surface of his being. He's very good about talking with me about his frustrations, even when the words are difficult because the exact cause of his frustrations sometimes eludes him. He just knows that it IS - the frustration nags at him and the triggers to that frustration are not always easily identifiable. 

He is a leader marked by humility and honesty. He leads his brothers so well - not perfectly, mind you, but with great skill and natural ability. Sometimes his strength of leadership also acts against him (and all of us) as thwarting his will can be something not terribly unlike facing down a volcano. Ultimately, his bark is a far greater risk than his bite, because love truly dictates his desires and actions. He receives love openly and without condition, which I have come to realize is a gift not all are blessed with. He gives love in the same way. And I marvel. How can one so young teach me so much each day? He is helpful and capable to an extraordinary degree.

He talks with me about his hopes and dreams, about his worries for what the future might hold, about his heartbreak and challenges in loving his brothers, his disappointment with his parents, his profound joys and sorrows and even his thoughts on God as his Creator. He remembers almost anything he's ever been told, especially with regard to history and seems to comprehend in a very real way the importance of history in how it reminds us of lessons learned, tragedies we can avoid (should we choose to remember the history that humanity has spelled out for us), and things done right/well. It's the whole-picture-perspective which he owns, and it is amazing. 

He also still has conversations with his Giraffe, Lofty (whom I tease him about, saying Lofty is actually a Yiraffe, since his neck is way too short to be an actual Giraffe). They are epic conversations and he is the mouthpiece to Lofty. Lofty is a very expressive Yiraffe, often much to our chagrin. :-) 

Madigan can spend hours playing Roman Legion with his brothers and he still rides David, his stick horse, when he rounds up the horses and cows at night. Be. Still. My. Heart. It is these boyish parts of the man that I treasure and hold close to my heart. 

He has the ability to see people and their needs. While in Austin, Ankie Tae bought him an ice cream sandwich when they stopped for gas. When she handed it to him, he asked her if she would be okay if he gave it to a young boy he saw sitting by himself, looking alone and sad. She, of course, agreed, and he trotted over to hand his sandwich to the boy, who eagerly took it. She said Madigan's joy was abundant and it filled her heart. 

The "gun" he built from a metal detector and other various items. :-)

So, here's to ever-so-many more conversations with Giraffes, to countless rides on that great stick horse, to water fights in the hose with his brothers, to long conversations on the porch swing over everything and nothing and to all that makes this boy a truly great man. 

Sunday, October 03, 2021

Motherhood Manifesto

Keep the children alive until tomorrow. Tomorrow: Repeat. 
When the poop hits the fan - literally - don't scream, though sobbing is acceptable. 
When you feel your blood boiling, jump in the fridge. 
When you step on a Lego, curse loudly in a foreign language. 
Gourmet cooking is not a reality. Settle. 
Kiss a clean house goodbye. 
If you are a mother of boys, you shall never again sit on a clean toilet seat. Wet and gross is your new reality. 
Remember that peace and quiet are overrated and underutilized. 
Your toothbrush does not belong to you and is now a multi-use tool. 
Mud is a probiotic. 
Sympathy vomit is no longer an option. 
You will no longer need an alarm, and the alarm times are never mutually decided.
When you are tempted to take a nice hot bath - in bleach - that's normal. And there are additional ways of removing feces odor. So, it's a win win! 
When you can't find your house through the laundry, build a new house. Way easier. 
You'll probably never hear another phone conversation again (because of the noise right now, and because you'll be deaf when the noise has lessened).
You will dream of little else when you're sleeping and you'll wake up savoring those dreams.
Live in the moment. No, really. At least try to stay alive.
Sleep is an elusive hilarity. Don't let it pester you. 
They will infuse you with joy that is actually painful it's so potent.
You will never cry so much. You will also never laugh so much.
You will think you're crazy so much more than you thought possible. And you will be (mostly) right. 
They will probably eat their boogers. Deal with it. 
You will never know such fear; you cannot protect them from it all, and it's absolutely horrifying.
Shower less because no one will care (or notice) if you stink. 
You will want to give them the moon, but you will actually give them so much more, by the grace of God.
You will be both amazed and horrified at their energy. It is greatness that cannot be harnessed!
You will break their hearts sometimes and nothing will break your heart more. 
Fill their lives with adventure, because they're your greatest adventure ever.
Hug them. Then, hug them more. Believe it or not they won't always be right here. 
Wake up, be thankful you've been given another day and RUN the race before you. You've got some great team mates.

I lost it tonight. Aberdeen found me in the bathroom, next to the toilet, with a face full of tears. I pleaded uselessly with Lochlan to poop in the toilet instead of the trashcan, the shower, the floor, my bed. And then I pleaded with him to wipe before he pulls his pants up because... well, just because. He, knowing I was upset, started screaming and yelling about a great many things. Then, Declan and Kelton came in and wrapped me in a hug and asked me what kind of tea I would prefer, and if I had a milk preference. It worked. I felt like the lunatic I was in that moment and I was able to SEE that sweet, struggling boy perched on the toilet. He's just a mess right now and it's most definitely not his fault. He has had diarrhea (I'm still absurdly proud that I know how to spell that) for three days and then yesterday started vomiting. After 24 hours of vomiting, the diarrhea resumed. He's skin and bones and his eyes look bleary. He lacks energy and though his thirst for knowledge is abundant, he is clearly struggling to keep up in school. 

It's more frustrating than I can say. The diarrhea and vomit are taxing, but watching him suffer again is utterly impossible. It's unfair in every way. I hate nothing more in this life. I find myself angry - so angry - and tonight, as I sat there on the bathroom floor I remembered that I'm not angry with him. At. All. He's the one who has been dealt this ugly hand and we're the ones who are to stand beside him, and in front of him, fighting for him, and finding the answers for him. We're the ones to hug him and hold him. We're the ones who are to remind him that he is fearfully and wonderfully made and cherished beyond all measure. Because He Is. 

If it's into the shadow lands, I will go. 

We will begin another round of protozoa, fungal and bacterial treatment as soon as possible. All prayers are coveted. 

I found this picture of my dad holding Krista and me. A picture worth a thousand words - words I wish I had. I think it says what I'm trying to say... 

Monday, September 27, 2021

Do the next right thing

Reflections from my wanderings this week... 

The place(s) where I take all my questions. Sometimes the answers are given, but more often I leave them in His care and wait.

Keep walking. One foot, then the other. Don't give up. 

Worry robs today of it's joy and energy and gives nothing to tomorrow. 

If it is a rocky path I am asked to follow, I shall find good shoes and strong companions to walk with me in this life. 

“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations - these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously - no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.” C.S. Lewis

The stories behind pictures are often quite different than we suspect. In the following two pictures, the boys were hanging as far out of the car as possible to avoid the stench of dead, rotting flesh that was hanging off Bumpy after she rolled in a carcass in the woods. 

When I encounter various people, it is important to remind myself that the picture before me does not tell the story. It is just a picture. Assumptions are unwise. 

Hard times come for each of us in life. As we walk through it, we may be devastated by it, and rightly so. But, we may (simultaneously) find it is the pathway to unfathomable joy, in His severe mercy. 

The mountains declare... and I stand in awe and reverence. 

Love is only limited by the box we put it in. Great love I see daily and it astounds me. 

 I must obey in the thing that lies before me today. I must simply do the next right thing. 

Great gifts come to us in many forms... some are easier to recognize than others. 

I think we are each deeply alone. We may build a life alongside others, marry, have lasting forever friendships, raise (the most amazing!) children, grow old alongside those we cherish the most; but inside of each of us I think there forever remains a hunger for something. Completion? The fulfillment of that which we have spent our lives working out? I don't know what it is, but there seems to be an unsatisfied emptiness that leaves each of us even just slightly hollow. It gives us a longing that we most often can't explain. It may be part of what drives us as the human race to live fully, wholly, desperately, and not give up.  

I open my eyes and see the mountains, valleys, streams, deserts, and everything in between; they are a reflection. And I find abundant joy and hope in what I see. 

The simple moments in each day are often the most profound. 

I will hold these treasures in my heart.