Sunday, July 31, 2022

Do the next thing

All people suffer. We each go through inexplicably hard times at various points in our life and it has the potential to either break and destroy us, or to break us, mold us and help us find joy we have not previously known. Joy, born from pain, has no measure and no bounds. It changes us forever. The most profound things I have learned in this life have come from the deepest suffering. It puts all things into perspective. At the most basic level, I realize I have absolutely no control over anything in my life and there is some great freedom in that. My responsibility in this crazy brutal life is to rise each day that I'm given and do what I can, what I am able to do with all the strength I can muster- do the next thing. 

I miss my hill. Being locked out of the forest right now is so crazy hard because it's where I go to feel grounded and whole again. When I stand on that hill, underneath my tree, I feel small and suddenly whatever threatens to overwhelm me also feels smaller and less daunting. There seems to be some strange irony that I cannot go my place of refuge now when life seems particularly absurd. However, I am finding peace in the unexpected places. I am filled with hope each morning when I look out upon the mud covered field with it's broken fences. Each night, especially on post-flood days, I feel slightly battle weary but those feeble emotions will only fail me. I am rich because I am not alone - none of us is truly alone, even when our suffering, our pain, the horror of our circumstances tries to deceive us to believe we are. And I have found friends in neighbors - shared suffering can do much to unite, giving people a common mission, even if that's just survival :-). 

I am (very) anxious for the next season to begin, but I must live in this season fully and well. So, if it's picking up boulders again today then it will be done. 

"God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world." ~ C.S. Lewis

"He makes us wait. He keeps us on purpose in the dark. He makes us walk when we want to run, sit still when we want to walk, for He has things to do in our souls that we are not interested in." ~ Elizabeth Elliot

Friday, July 29, 2022

zero visibility

Lochlan just ambled into my bedroom where I was sitting on my bed, reading. He looked at me as he came forward, giving me a huge smile. Then, as he got close, he leaned in, and placed his cheek on mine. He turned and KISSED me and said "night". My heart stopped. My dreams are made of these moments.  

As I sat in the living room tonight, I was watching Lochlan and Madigan interact at the dining room table. There was a steady flow of playful banter, a tickle poke, raised eyebrow, giggle, and more teasing.  I think in many ways we will never fully realize how much "brothering" Lochlan has shaped each of the boys; deep in their hearts I believe they are changed to see the world differently because they have lived with the perpetual stream of challenges, they have learned to understand a human who is complicated and difficult to understand, they have loved past the pain and even more incredibly they have understood the profound simplicity of love that is not based off merit but is given because humanhood is beautiful and it's value is immeasurable. I think it has built in them a resilience and it is something I look at when my own courage fails me. 

Lochlan has been nursing a few new and old fixations for the past couple weeks - undoubtedly inspired by the absurd amount of stress. He started pulling his hair out in chunks again, so we had to cut his hair very short. To express himself he often hits his arm with his other hand, leaving bruises, so we've had to put his arm in a brace and tape it on with Gorilla tape. He has been trying to climb out of our new yard which is fenced with the panels, so I'm 'bout to have to put my creativity hat back on. Grrr. He has continued to receive speech therapy from Allie (AJ) who has worked with him for years. He adores her - we all do - and we are incredibly blessed to have her. She started working with LJ when he was completely non-verbal and we all rejoiced if he grunted a response. Now, she has him enunciating words more clearly and she's working with him to say 3-4 words at a time. She utilizes creative methods to motivate him, including mini chocolate chips. For each word he gets a choc chip. But, only if he says all three words at once! :-) She's also working with him to keep a shirt on (sometimes adding a weighted vest helps) during his sessions. 




Lochlan is getting hippotherapy from a therapist across the street from us. We have had to miss several sessions due to evacuations, and then flooding, but I can see that it has been a huge benefit to him nonetheless. 

So, as we adapt to our new realities, we are trying to keep this boy on track to continue making progress. This current season of our lives is in the crazy zone, but we have few choices in the matter, so... onward. Today, I loaded a 12' gate to take to the other property and while I was delivering it, a storm rolled in. I rushed to get home, and as I was grabbing the (metal) gate (in pouring down rain), lightning struck impossibly close and I felt electricity run through me. Max and Fancy felt the same shock, so perhaps it was running through the water we were all standing in. Max and I both felt slightly numb on one side of our bodies for a bit, and our hair was standing on end, but we seemed unscathed otherwise. 

I, then proceeded, to drive home entirely too fast with almost zero visibility. I rushed up the road to park my car at my parents' house (as it cannot safely be parked anywhere near my house) and my dad drove me back home. By the time I reached the cabin, the rain was relentless and the water had started flowing. Within an hour there was an active river beside both the octagon and A-frame. We also lost power, though only for a bit. 

We lit candles all over the cabin,read a boxcar children story and waited out the storm. It all passed eventually. We've lost a bit more real estate in the rivulets that are spread across our land, but all-in-all we fared well. Madigan and I walked the property after the storm had passed and were able to remove some trees and rocks that were piling up on our few remaining fences. 

Living in the tiny cabin has had it's challenges, including the hobbit-sized refrigerator, the itty-bitty stackable washer/dryer unit, the lack of a pantry and the fact that on rainy nights my bike (an efficient mode of transportation to get to and from my car parked at my parents' house) has to be parked in the kitchen.

 However, I have discovered that the perks outweigh any of the inconveniences. I can enjoy the new kitchen sink we installed in the grand remodel last summer and I love it! The bathtub... it's magical. I have been looking for an excuse to use it for quite some time, and then suddenly no excuse needed! The candles... almost as soon as you walk into the cabin, it just says to you "candles would be lovely right now". (Right, Kathy?!) I love to have a candle on the fireplace and I actually find myself waking up excited to light it and grab my cup of tea. I love the smaller space to clean - even if it also means we are tripping over each other a bit more. But, the BEST part is my mountain. I can see it in all it's grandeur and the sunsets do not disappoint. I find solace in the wild places and seeing the wild places outside the back window, even in their scarred form, bring me comfort and joy. 

So, the storms will come and they will go... we will press on and face tomorrow with the joy that we find in the hidden places. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

The start of a new chapter


It's a chilly, damp morning and there is a stillness in the air. I'm curled up with a cup of hot tea underneath my fuzzy blanket. My favorite kind of morning. We had an intense day of flooding yesterday, and though it started to breach the wall at the Octagon, no water has gotten into the houses yet. Once the water subsided I was pleasantly surprised to see that it had washed away a tremendous amount of mud from our property, cleaning off the boulders in our field. This will all make it much easier for me to build the rock walls in the future. 

I have always loved the sound of rain, but I've noticed that I feel a restlessness in my heart now when I hear rain or wind. I think the past few months will take some processing and when I have time to do so, I will. I look around this community and see all of us together just facing today, then tomorrow, bracing ourselves against what may come. We have many days of rain in the forecast and this has been the wettest monsoon season I have seen in years. After the two wildfires, I don't think any of us were REALLY prepared for the onslaught of rain that has followed. But, there is a strength in each of us that I don't think we tap into until we face these kinds of challenges and it grows stronger when we know we are not alone. As a neighborhood, we are together and I know without hesitation that if any one of us is in trouble it will be addressed by many. With that knowledge comes greater confidence and determination. 

I took a quick hike up Fern Mountain, on the other side of the Peaks on Saturday just to mentally work through the thoughts I haven't been able to consider for weeks on end. I sat in the sunshine on the top soaking up the fragrance of the wild - it was such a strong sensation and I couldn't identify if it was because of the recent rain + wildflowers + wild animals all about, or if it was because I have been away from it for what feels like forever (the past days have felt like years). Maybe it was both. It was so still and quiet on that mountain and in my heart that the bees felt noisy. I felt restoration in those simple moments. 

We have moved into the A-frame this week. Slowly, one car load at a time we moved A-frame items to the new house and then new house items into the A-frame. I wrecked my 4-Runner late one evening after we had been doing flood prep; I was way too tired to be driving and in the darkness I jack knifed my trailer into it. So, we've been down to one car for all of this. Grrr. We can't park next to the A-frame thanks to the copious quantity of mud/debris in what used to be the driveway, so we've hauled everything some distance. Thank goodness I have strapping boys to assist! 

Once we were mostly moved into the A-frame, Kaysee and I began the preparation for getting the new house on the Airbnb market. There was a lot of furniture moving, bed dismantling, re-arranging and then re-arranging again, and then a good measure of cleaning. But, it's almost there. 

The boys have held up incredibly well under all this. They took to their new living quarters like champs and have embraced their new reality at a full gallop. I can see signs of stress in each of them, but they're being open and talking about it and I think that really helps. I've seen more tears - especially when it starts to rain. Lochlan has been fixating on various things which is always difficult. Kelton decided to cut his own hair because he was hot and the results were... memorable. Madigan has been quite emotional with strong emotions in both directions. Declan has been supportive and caring, but I can see the weight literally making his shoulders a little lower. I had a come-apart yesterday. I had spent a couple hours washing the carpets with our obsolete, ear-splitting carpet cleaner. The carpets were (almost) spotless; then, Madigan came into the house with his boots covered in mud and... you guessed it. After an outburst of sobbing, I rallied myself and started re-cleaning the carpet, only for the carpet cleaner to give up and die. While scrubbing the mud out by hand, I cried some more. I realized that I was not crying about the carpet - not really. It was the reality that this incident reflected what so much of my life has felt like through this pretty wretched year. I have worked for years to make this place a refuge for our family, a place of beauty to return to when the going gets tough, when the challenges with Lochlan become too much, when darkness tries to consume. I have tended the gardens, pulled millions of weeds, moved thousands of rocks to make pathways, built fences... to watch it wash away in one flash flood. 

But, I believe that suffering is never for nothing. I am to work diligently, to put my heart and soul into the things that are placed before me to do. The ultimate outcome of that work is not necessarily in my ability to determine. I am to teach my children to love well and to keep walking forward when all the world hurls itself against them. This life seems to be very much about the molding of our hearts through the process of suffering. We may not know in our lifetime why these things are required of us. I beg God to be merciful, but ultimately He is not obligated to be so. His goodness is everlasting though everything around us perish. He is moving in the unseen, so even when my confidence is shaken and fear crawls into my heart, I know that I am not alone. 

We need the rain to grow the things that are needed above us on the mountain. I consider the aspen groves that may grow abundantly upon our present burn scar. Perhaps our present suffering will bless future generations who will find hope and life in golden forests of aspen.