Friday, June 29, 2012

Fibular Hemimelia: parenting, parenting, parenting

Picture a van. Luggage carrier on top. One driver Dad, one passenger Mom, two teenage boys, one pre-K girl, one upcoming second grade boy, and one most welcome Granny. Picture disgruntled teenage boy one reluctantly handing over his IPOD to screaming pre-K girl while upcoming second grade boy cries that it's no wonder he can't sleep and driver Dad glares angrily from the rear view mirror while passenger Mom just doesn't understand why we can't drive ONE mile without someone crying. Picture most welcome Granny pacifying crying upcoming second grade boy and calming screaming pre-K girl as teenage boy one covers his face with a pillow and teenage boy two (nephew) bluntly exclaims to passenger Mom: "You're the reason I'll never have kids."

Ahh, family vacation. The time to relax.

Luckily for me, God had laid in on my heart, and mom had it on her Kindle, for me to reread One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskcamp. Just as IPODS were flying and children were crying, I came upon a passage that at least gave me hope amid my feelings of frustration and failure. Now some moms can just get in among all those screaming kids and swat some behinds and make some "your daddy will pull this car over" (can you image the chaos on major highways if all the dads did just that?) warnings and go back to their book satisfied that all is well in the world of parenting.

I, however, am not that kinda mom.

Instead I cry (who would notice amid the three thousandth watching of Judy Moody and eating of gummy bears and slurping of bug juices), feeling that my lecturing, my praying, my tirelessly teaching has gone to naught. Has passed right over their heads like the Skittles flying between the rows.

satan. He knows my weaknesses. He knows my desire for perfection --in all things --even eleven hour, seven passenger, car rides. (Just check out the perfectly poised, white attired beach picture and you'll get a glimpse of my imperfections -and not my sun burned, slightly swollen nose either!) He knows that it hurts, all jokes aside, tears at my core, to see my children fighting, to hear myself yelling, to see my mom (most welcome Granny) look at me with that "bless your heart you have your hands full" look.

Failure leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It ushers in fear --what if they never truly listen to the lecturing, heed the Holy Spirit's conviction, yearn for tireless teachings? What if they don't invite each other to backyard cookouts and Christmas dinner? What if I'm never most welcome Granny in the back seat pacifying grandbaby one and consoling grandbaby two?

Oh, he's good. He knows my heart.

But he doesn't CONTROL it.

If you listen, if you truly want to hear, God can be heard over the noise of the DVD player, the disgruntled murmurings of teenage boys, and even your own angry, barking response. He reminds us in Psalm 46:10 that we have to be still (quiet) to hear Him and to remember Who He IS. Crying silently in the backseat, He saw me. He heard my cry. He knew that I needed refreshed. Didn't Hagar, alone in the desert, overwhelmed by her circumstances, call His name El Roi -the God who sees me. Wasn't she camped by a well, yet didn't see it?

I needed some reminding -of what I wasn't seeing that was right next to me.

At all times His words bring truth, perspective. That day, He whispered, "Did I fail you? Is that why you don't listen to my Word, yield to my spirit, desire my teaching? Is that why you cry to get your way? Is that why my gifts never seem enough to satisfy? Is that why you cannot travel ONE mile without forgetting my provision for every mile that you have traveled? Or is it your own flesh that rebels against goodness and fights my spirit for control? If I give you grace each day, mercies anew each morning, do you not suppose that driver Dad, two teenage boys, upcoming second grade boy, pre-K girl, and most welcome Granny deserve new mercies too? Have you forgotten to give thanks for a van full of blessings? A van full of love and possibilities?"

Ann Voskamp writes: "Thanking God for ALL -prepares the way for God to show us His fullest salvation from bitter, angry, resentful lives --and all sin that estranges us from Him. ... Take everything given, fall at His feet, and thank Him."

May my life song ever be one that never fails to see Him and to give thanks. To seek Him amid the noise. To be a giver of grace.

(Driver Dad and Passenger Mom)

(Most welcome Granny)

(Teenager 2 (nephew))

(Teenager 1)

(Upcoming second grader)

(Who could yell at this pre-K bright pink Barbie lipsticked mouth and sweet on backwards mismatched --I picked out my clothes all by myself -- girl?)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Fibular Hemimelia -A Year Later ... tiny toes, cute pictures!

Because the "Tiny toes, cute pictures" blog title gets the most views, I thought I'd shamelessly use it again! On a different note, I did promise an "after" to the "Fibular Hemimelia Before" blog a while back and since June 7th marked one year "after" surgery, I feel that an update on Ethan's progress is certainly needed, especially given his new flat-top!

The pictures below are of Ethan's legs today. As you can see, the scars are healing. All scars heal ... some just take longer than others.

His legs are now pretty close to equal in length. Obviously, his left leg is made pretty differently. His knee lacks an ACL and PCL and his valgus (knocked knees) is still significant. He has another surgery on June 26 to move the 8 Plate from the femur to the tibia to correct the valgus. But I think his leg is just beautiful! His smiling little sister thinks so too!

Reflecting on a difficult year has its difficulties, too. I prayed specifically before writing this blog and simply asked Jesus, "What would you have me tell them?" What would you have me tell the ones who are facing a difficult year, the ones who feel beyond overwhelmed, the ones who cannot seem to make it past the "unfairness" of it all.

"Do you want me to recount your provision for us in Baltimore?" I smile in remembrance of the time we spent there --basement time. "Do you want me to tell them how we started nightly devotions in that basement --mini-revivals I'd go as far as to say. Do they need to hear that we are still revived?"

"Should I prepare them," I asked, "for the difficulty in watching someone you love hurt in a way that you can't take away. Or should I lead them to see the grace in ALL things?"

"Lord Jesus," I prayed, "Should I write about how I swore I'd never take walking for granted EVER again --that I promised to thank you EVERY day for the simplicity of bending a knee if he could just bend his again --and that I failed in that promise?"

My questions continued throughout the past week, and I heard a Christian radio guest make a remarkable comment just yesterday. She said that we teach others best when we are enduring difficulty --in our brokenness others can see Jesus in us. And I wonder, "Did God teach you through my difficulty? Was God able to use me, such a worthless jar of clay, to somehow showcase His Glory?"

"Of all the lessons, Lord, what do they need to hear?"

And then, He told me.

It really wasn't the answer I was looking for. I was kinda hoping for a long list ... kind of a year in review. Reminders of the little first grade girl and her prayer shawl, Emily's dinner prayers that have begun with "Lord, help my brother, Ethan" every day since last year (even today), the way in which I was able to share the blog, and therefore my faith, with my high school students and still meet a VA State SOL.

Instead, He simply said, "Tell them I love them."

And I can't type those words without crying so hard that I can't see the screen. "Tell them that I love them."

Did you need to hear that today --because I did. I need to know that even in my sinfulness, in my selfishness, He Loves Me.

He loves you in your difficulty. He loves you as you worry and you cry. He loves you as you question and rage against unfairness. He loves you as you yield to His will.

One of my favorite scriptures about our Savior is found in Luke 13:34 where He cries over Jerusalem: "-O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!"

He wants to gather you to Him. He wants to heal your hurt. He weeps with you in your trial. He will bring purpose from your pain.