Just to Finish Well.

31 days a writing challenge

 

It’s October 19th. This means I should be writing my 19th post for the 31 day series, but I am not. I am only on ten. I would love to say this is because we have been so busy there was barely time to breathe, that my migraines came and I had not felt good in over a week, that my three year old was beyond… well, beyond. And while all of this is true, these are not the only reasons I am behind.

There are two reasons I can name, apart from those listed above, that have kept me behind.

1. On day six, God threw me a curve ball. I know with every 31 days there is a lesson for me, something God wants to show me, but I always miss it. That is, until I write it out.  In the past it’s been nearly the whole month of writing before He reveals it to me, or before I actually see it. But this year, It was early in the writing, His teaching me about our unwillingness. That really took me a couple days to process and then put into words. This is where my behindness began. (I know. I sometimes make up words to fit my situations. It happens.)

2. In all the chaos of the past few weeks, as I began writing this series, I watched my self. Cluing in on my reactions and I learned I am not qualified to speak about finding quiet in the chaos. What gives me the authority to speak on a topic that I fail in on a daily basis?

Hold on. There are three reasons I am behind.

3. Being apart of a Facebook community for the write 31 day challenge. This group is packed full of some amazing and encouraging women, but, it is kind of intimidating. These women have beautiful blogs. Beautiful writing. They talk about their stats and their posts with the highest visitors. About getting comments and not getting comments. And I feel like I am 12 years old.

When reading back through my posts, I see all the misspelled words, grammar mistakes, incomplete thoughts. It’s like elementary school, where you have a topic and you have to write 3 paragraphs on the topic. Then the teacher marks your paper all up in red and you have to write again. Or, even more so, it feels like 5 minute Friday, you know, you write for 5 minutes with the prompt of one word? Five minutes and done. No editing. That’s the rules. Yeah it feels like that, except it’s five minutes everyday, because I just want to make it through the 31 days. I just want to say I finished.

But really, deep in my heart I want to finish well. I want to say out loud… I. Finished. Well. That I wrote the words God gave to me. That they were used for my purpose or even for someone else. I don’t want to write just to write. I don’t want to worry about stats and comments and traffic. I just want to write what God calls me to write. So I can say I finished well.

Ok, number three was a long one I know. And now I give you permission to call me a liar. Because I am. I am such a liar. There are four reasons I am behind. Four!

4. The fourth reason is this, just simply being behind. Because this being behindness (there is that word again) is creating chaos in my mind. Should I write a bunch of posts and get it all caught up at once. Or just keep posting one day at a time? Or write as I feel led to write? Am I being lazy? Am I just afraid? Am I playing the comparison game, again? Chaos, right?

As I ponder all these reasons, it is evident I am listening to voices that want to see me fail. Those that tell me I am not enough. That I am not good enough. And the one that really gets me, why start it because you will never finish. They flashback memories of the past and bind me to it. Bound in shackles of past accusations, long since proven false and my heart races to be free. It beats loud in my ears, reminding me of the only voice that speaks truth. If I would push aside the chaos for just a moment and listen to the quiet I will find the truth.

There are only two reasons listed above that have any merit. The first, I have been really busy. I am learning a new routine, as my oldest daughter is taking baby steps out into the world with voice lessons and dance lessons, and I with my youngest’s new diagnosis we now have 2-3 therapy appointments a week. I haven’t figured out the finesse to juggling a busy schedule and getting things done. This is new territory for me and I can’t seem to find my way through it yet.

The second, God threw me a curve ball. On day six! Wow! Day six! I know I I just said that, but yeah, I was not expecting that one. With this revelation of my unwillingness, I have to learn, I have practice my willingness. Daily. For the only way in finding quiet in the chaos is practice. Practice until it becomes habit. Practice until it becomes an involuntary behavior such as inhaling and exhaling.

All these other reasons are lies infiltrating my mind. Nothing more than my own self created chaos used to fill my already chaotic day. I know I don’t need anymore chaos. It’s not healthy. Nothing good comes from chaos. It’s time to refocus.

Remember the reason He called me to write for 31 days. Remember when I felt Him nudging me to publish my words in a public place. It wasn’t for building platforms or driving traffic, an especially not for me to worry over comments or followers. It was simply to share my story. Whether that be for my healing or someone else, it is simply to share my story. Because really this story is not mine to hold on to, it is His. It is His story that He has given to my life. It’s gospel. And He has called me to share it. He calls us all to share it.

 

And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. Revelation 12:11

 

This is day ten in 31 one days of finding quiet in the chaos. To view the whole series click here.

One of Your Favorite Days.

Hey daddy-

It was three years ago today I got the call from Melissa. It was 9:14 am. I was walking through the neighborhood yard sale on a beautiful fall morning. You know the kind. The air is crisp with a slight breeze, leaves starting to change their colors and the sky bluer than blue. I sometimes wonder if God made the skies bluer in the fall so that the changing colors of the leaves would be so much more brilliant? Hmmm, that would be just like the artist that he is, wouldn’t it? Maybe you could ask Him for me?

Melissa’s tone on the phone was not one I expected. I thought she was calling to see if I had found any treasures. Instead her voice was somber. They took daddy in the ambulance. He is in the ER. I will keep you posted. Ok. Keep me posted. I think that’s how the conversation went.

Everything will be just fine. I whispered it as I slid the phone back into my pocket and carried on seeking treasures.

They admitted you into the hospital that day. The doctors were not sure what was wrong other than your iron levels were low once again. But you were the same, daddy. You didn’t seem sick. You didn’t seem like you needed to be there in that hospital. Everything was just fine. Until it wasn’t.

The last time I saw you outside that hospital room was at Cassie’s birthday party. Remember that day?  It was at Darin’s house and the kids swam in the freezing pool? I made some grain free vegan cakes for Sydney so she wouldn’t feel left out. You ate two pieces of that chocolate cake. You always said my crazy recipes were good even when they weren’t. Haha! I am still trying to figure out how to bake yummy treats for Sydney. One day I might just get it right.

I got that call on a Saturday and it wasn’t until Tuesday that I actually saw you. The day was a complete blur, we were running to attorney appointments, guardian ad litems, visitation, all for the sake of that little baby.

I lost a lot of time with you daddy, because of that situation. It was worth it though. She is all ours now. You would love the little girl she has become. She is this beautiful soul with such spunk, autism gets in her way from time to time, but you just look past it. You can’t help but look past it. Because she is just that special.

The girls stayed at the hospital with you and mom while we went to our appointments. When we picked them up you were smiling and laughing, watching tv, it seemed all so normal. Just like every other visit to the hospital. We had this down daddy. This routine. Every 6 months we went to the hospital. You stayed a few days and got patched up and came home. How many years did we do this?

On Thursday, Sydney wanted to come see you and show off her new haircut. She cut it short. It was so cute. She was so happy to be free of the tangles. Her hair is long now. Just past her shoulders. And she is as tall as me now, can you believe it? You would be so proud of her, Daddy. She is truly amazing.

Everyone that meets her loves her and they all say the same thing. She has this sprit that you just connect with and they are drawn to her in a way they cannot even explain. But I can explain it. She is the closest thing to Jesus that you might actually meet here on earth. She has such grace and love. It is unconditional. There is this gentleness about her and she forgives without a thought. She is amazing. You know she is almost thirteen years old?

They transferred you the next day, Friday, to the heart hospital for your heart catheterization. How many would this make? I lost count. You needed more some stents. Your arteries were blocked again, 100% blocked. How in the world were you still standing?

I didn’t make it to see you that night after they finished. These horrible migraines. I still get them, but the doctors are getting closer to getting me fixed. I wish It hadn’t been raining that day. I wish I didn’t have a migraine. I wish they didn’t transfer you to that heart hospital on the other side of town. You know they made our favorite hospital a heart hospital shortly after you left? Yup. They finally did it.

Daddy, they gave you medicine that night and you slipped away from us. Right through our fingers and we couldn’t stop you. I don’t know what happened. You just kept slipping. It was only 36 hours later that you headed on home to glory.

The night you left daddy, I couldn’t be with you. Another migraine, of course, a debilitating one. I barely made it to the parking lot to get home. I tried to everything I knew to end it so I could back to you at the hospital. It just wouldn’t let me go. The moment it let up enough, I packed a bag to come back to the hospital. But It was too late. Just as we were headed out the door, Melissa was calling again. She said, “Say goodbye Shelly.” I tried, Daddy. I tried getting everyone in that car and get back to you at the hospital that was 30 minutes away. I just wanted to see you. I wanted to be there with you.

You took your last breath before we were out of the driveway.

I miss you daddy. So much has changed here. Some days are really hard and they are really lonely. I’m dreaming of the day when I am finally there with you. So save a place for me and save some grace for me…

Today the air feels just like that day you went into the hospital. The leaves outside my window are turning orange and the blue sky, daddy! The blue is so beautiful.

sky

This would be one of your favorite days.

I love you. Always.

Shelly

 

Some Days You Just Have to Let Go.

31 days a writing challenge

 

Calendars. I have several in my arsenal. My iPhone calendar, I use it only to for the ease of sharing our schedules and they are all tucked neatly in one place. But really this isn’t functional to me in the everyday. I have 3 school calendars. One with plans laid out for the week, one for daily schoolwork and field trips, and one to track the days we school. Yes, I am a homeschooling mom. I have a symptom tracker calendar to measure my health issues to report to my doctor. I have my dry erase calendar so I can see the whole month laid out in front of me, because I just need that old school visual hands on calendar, not just a bunch of dots that I have to click on to see what is planned that day.

With all these calendars one would think we would be organized. That schedules would run on time and we would make it to all of our appointments. That errands would be run and tasks completed each day as planned. You would think this would lessen the chaos. But in effect it can be quite the opposite.

When I try to hold tight to our schedule and plans for the day, it doesn’t leave room for the unexpected. No time for tired kids, sensory overload, migraines, allergies or for the simply off days where everything seems to go wrong. The more I struggle to stick to the plan the more power the chaos holds. The house fills with frustration and anxiety. Its not long before everyone feels it and the chaos is unleashed.

Some days you just have to let go of the day. Throw the calendar out the window. Let go of the expected and all the planned, because if not, you will soon be mourning the loss of a day. A day that could have been spent in the moment, being fully present in life instead of worrying that the day is slipping by and nothing is being crossed of the list. I have learned my calendars are simple guidelines for each day meant only for the purpose of helping me stay organized.

I am learning to be flexible. To bend with the day as it twists and turns. To be thankful for whatever and wherever it ends up when my head rests on my pillow each night.

 

We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9

 

This is day nine in 31 one days of finding quiet in the chaos. To view the whole series click here.

Unlearning the learned.

31 days a writing challenge

 

 

Every year I have participated in write 31 days, it has been a learning experience. Not a learning of writing, grammar, building platforms, building traffic or even followers. It has been a learning to trust God. To not just believe in God, but to believe Him. Believe His promises are true. That He is always for me and always with me.

When I get trapped in the story of my life, it is through this writing He sets me free. The scales fall away and I see His hands orchestrating my life. Whether the writing be about past or present events, He gives me new eyes to see and it is all glory.

This year has not proven to be any different.

I had known about the upcoming writing event since August and I knew I was not going to participate this year. I did not feel that pull, nor had I heard the whispers like I had in years past. But then the morning of October 1st rolled around. I was attempting to write out my reflections of the event I had attend just a week earlier. I was fumbling through my thoughts. I just could not find the words that truly expressed what God had done that day and I quickly found myself perusing the internet.

One click led to another and I soon found myself on write31days.com. My fingers feverishly typing and clicking the trackpad. I had heard that whisper and felt that pull. and there is sat. I was all signed up with a confirmation email sitting neatly in my inbox.

An hour later I had a button, a topic and no plan. and there I was writing my introductory post for a series I had no idea what I was going to do with it. Until I did.

It only took six posts for God to reveal Himself. It was unexpected and actually took me several days to process it. It is never easy when God reveals your own rebellion. But it was clear. And change was needed. But how?

This week I have watched myself knee deep in the chaos. I watched how I handled each and every situation. It was not pretty and it was heartbreaking. I saw how easily I turned inward, trying to rely on my strength. It was habit. A learned behavior.

A learned behavior. A term used in therapy sessions with our littlest one with autism. Put simply because certain behaviors have worked in the past to get the result she wanted, no matter how ugly that may have looked, she has learned that this is the way to get things she needs or wants in her life. I am not talking about being spoiled. This is the kind of behavior that comes from an inward fear that she doesn’t understand. A fear that causes her to react in such a way to control her environment. This sounds a lot like me trying to control the chaos.

We don’t have to have labels of autism, OCD, PDD-NOS, or others to have learned behavior. Behavior that might seem in the moment right, but really it isn’t. We all have learned behaviors. Little things we have learned to cope with our own environments. Whether they are intentional or not, we created them.

In therapy, there is a process of correcting these behaviors. Not caving when the moment has spiraled downhill and the learned behaviors surface, but giving encouragement and supporting the good behavior. It is work. It is practice. It doesn’t always come out right. But the more you practice, the learned behavior starts to fall away, giving into the  new behavior. Eventually this new behavior becomes the norm.

It’s time to put in place the practice. To let the learned behavior fall and give way to the new behavior. To seek Him. Seek His face. In all things. Always.

And there will be quiet in the chaos.

 

This is day eight in 31 one days of finding quiet in the chaos. To view the whole series click here.

When Sleep is a Gift.

31 days a writing challenge

 

It is too early to be awake. The house is dark and the sun is barely breaking the horizon. Yet we are awake. For some this is the norm, but for us it is not. Neither of our children have functional sleep patterns. Between the two of them there is a 4-6 hour window we can actually sleep.

sunrise in the dark

 

Sleep is definitely a gift in this house. Sleep plays a critical role in immune function, metabolism, memory, learning, and other vital functions, it is during sleep that our body repairs itself.

There are 5 stages in the sleep cycle. Stage 1 – falling asleep. Stage 2 – disengaging from your surroundings. Stage 3 – falling into deep sleep and beginning restorative functions. Stage 4 – deep sleep, most high level functions of the brain are shut down. Stage 5 – REM sleep. The areas of the brain that handle emotions and memory to become highly active.

During deep sleep your body is restoring itself from the damages that occurred during the day from toxins in our environment, hormones released from stress, toxins in our water and food, illness, etc. Research has shown that the brain needs at least 3 hours to shut down. That’s 3 hours of sleep minimum for your body to begin the process of repair.

Sleep is vital.

Without we cannot be prepared to handle the chaos the happens each day. We become impatient. Anxious. Frustrated. All of this only escalates the chaos. not just for us as parents, but for our children. When they have not slept enough their bodies react in chaos, perhaps even to the extreme. Every little thing becomes an irritant to them. It can be a vicious cycle, this lack of sleep.

But how do you find it when you live with dysfunctional sleep patterns? The answer is not easy for us. It is a matter of trial and error and being flexible. Creating an environment where sleep cycles correct. Taking turns on the awakening. And we are still seeking the solution.

In the mean time, a strong cup of coffee might just be in order.

 

This is day seven in 31 one days of finding quiet in the chaos. To view the whole series click here.

 

 

But We Were Unwilling.

31 days a writing challenge

 

Our house is filled with chaos and it answers to many names. Autism. Aspergers. Obsessive Compulsive disorder. Sensory processing disorder. Celiac disease. Hormone imbalance. Migraines. Food allergies.

This chaos is like a vortex that sucks you in without warning, and there appears no way out. The more you struggle, the deeper you go, and you fear you might just drown. We fight against it, drawing escape plans, creating ways to wrangle it, but really there is no fighting it. It is uncontrollable. Unpredictable. Undeniable.

For years we have lived in this chaos. Always running just on the edge of that vortex and for years we have continuously been sucked right into it.  We always say we need to find a way to stop this. We need to learn how to live. We need to learn how to stop the chaos.

This is where we erred. 

These things we bundle together and call chaos, they cannot be stopped. Sure we have doctors, therapists, medications; all tools to assist us in the chaos. But this chaos is and will always be a part of our lives. The answer is not in finding a way of stopping the chaos to find quiet, but finding the quiet in the chaos.

For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling, Isaiah 30:15 (ESV)

This verse in its context is a warning to the rebellious. To those who have light, but choose darkness. Thinking themselves wiser than God and pursuing their own measures to salvation, but this path leads only to hasten their ruin.

This is where we erred. 

We rebelled. We took matters into our own hands and we sought to put an end to our chaos, instead of embracing it and turning toward the only one who could provide true quiet in the chaos. We rebelled. We were unwilling.

Pulpit Commentary puts it oh so perfectly for our circumstance.

“in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength; in a quiet submission to the will of God, and in quietly waiting upon him for the issue and event of things, abiding in their own houses, and not in a hurrying tumultuous manner, running here and there for help; and in a holy and humble confidence in the Lord, and in the power of his might, where they should find such strength and security”

In all of our church going, bible reading and prayers, we have not simply sought Him for the quiet. In all of our hurrying and running we created more chaos. How simple would it be to return to God and seek Him in our chaos?  

To trust in His promise that  in returning and rest, you shall be saved, not the salvation we already have in Christ, but salvation from our chaos. Not that it be removed, but in that returning to Him, resting in Him, being quiet and waiting on Him would we not find quiet in our chaos?

 

Return to your rest, my soul, for the LORD has been good to you. Psalm 116:7

The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever. Isaiah 32:17

My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest. Isaiah 32:18

 

This is day six in 31 one days of finding quiet in the chaos. To view the whole series click here.

Braving the Chaos.

31 days a writing challenge

 

The breeze blew cool on this early fall morning. The air was crisp and the leaves were quietly rustling in the gentle breeze and I did not miss for a moment that they are slowing into quiet, preparing for winter to come. The sky was a brilliant blue. It always seems so vivid in autumn. Today we decided to create quiet. We were intentional and we braved the chaos. And it was a success.

 

sky

 

 

In being intentional, today I am taking a break from the writing, but am leaving you with the scripture that is the inspiration for my forthcoming post tomorrow.  I hope you will check back in with me tomorrow, it’s going to be good.

 

For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling
Isaiah 30:15

 

This is day five in 31 one days of finding quiet in the chaos. To view the whole series click here.