My Un-Favorite Day

Today has not been my favorite day.

But it didn’t start that way. Well, maybe it did….

I had to wake up “early” to take my older kids to school. I’m generally spoiled because they school where my husband teaches and he just takes them along. But on the rare occasion that he has something really early to attend (Bible Study, workout, etc) then I take them.

Today was one of those days.

It’s not the me having to wake up that’s so terrible. It’s having to wake up my toddlers (who, on any other day, would already be awake… but some unwritten law for children states that they must sleep in on days they have to be up at their normal hour of arousal).

That sets the tone for some serious whining from sleep-deprived kiddos. But I digress.

I woke up my kiddos and loaded all five of us in the car. We drove them to school and came right back home. I did my marathon training workout- which hurt. Our fence is broken so I had to run to the bank to get cash to pay my friend to fix it. Which made me late for my work call.

During this work call, I asked for prayer. I asked that God would give me wisdom and direction in how to spend my time… which is already pulled in so many different directions. Planning to move to a smaller home (and out of the country entirely, next June), trying to sell stuff, organize stuff, complete the kids’ albums, write, mother, wife…. Much of my last couple of days has been filled with things that I don’t want to do, but must. (And also with very enjoyable tasks as well) Alas, my prayer request.

My work call ends. They’ve prayed for me and I for them. Then comes my time to start work. I work online. The internet wouldn’t connect. Nice. An hour after some chat with an outsourced Comcast woman from Timbuktu, my internet is working and I have no idea what the problem was. Whatever.

It also happens to be a Smart Rate day. That means that from 2-7pm my electricity and gas are 3 xs the normal cost. BUT all the rest of the time, it’s 1/3rd of the cost. On days like today, I freeze the house out and then let it go until 7pm when we are all counting down the minutes that we can use lights and AC. Today, my computer battery died. Can’t plug it in. Guess work ends early.

After dinner (which I bought), I attempt to complete my digital photo album of my son. I’m very close to finishing and can do so tonight. Just in time. Because ordering this book will keep me activated as a Creative Memories Consultant (which gives me a nice discount on all of the books I make for my kids). I turn it on. Error code. Can’t find root element. What the heck is a root element? And where did it go? And how do I get it back? And of course, Creative Memories is closed so my questions simply float away… despairingly unanswered. Turning my computer on and off 15 times didn’t bring it back. Neither did a Google search on “how to find missing root elements.” Every other book I’ve ever made opens up just fine. But not that one…

*sigh*

So here I am, putting my kids to bed, trying not to look at the tornado’s destruction that hit my house. My 4 year old slips while skipping and hits his head. Hard. I don’t see swelling. But this definitely isn’t his normal quick recovery from an injury. Ice. Pain Reliever. More Google searches. I think he’s okay. No signs of internal bleeding or concussion. But still. Really?

I’ve just spent 634 words to tell you why this has not been my favorite day. I’m sure I could find a few more words to use… but the reality is, not every day of our lives is a good day. And that’s equally true for Christians. Or whoever else. Sometimes the day just sucks.

And today was sorta one of those days. For me.

And it’s okay. Tomorrow is a new day. With new mercies. New obstacles. New joys. New.

Perhaps all of the things I thought I needed to get done… weren’t God’s plan for my day. Maybe I’ve struggled with the answer to my own prayer from the beginning. Every step I took was re-directed. My desk was entirely re-organized, packed, and put away when I would have been working online. I cuddled with my daughter on the couch when the photo album program failed me (this after being really irritable with everyone). My son’s room wasn’t entirely clean, but I loved and cared for him through his fall and headache.

So here I am. My book is unfinished and I may have to deactivate. My work was incomplete. My dinner was not homemade. My son has a headache. I’m tired. Sort of. And it has not been my favorite day.

But sometimes un-favorite days are the best kind. They remind us how often we take for granted all of the other days. Today also reminds me that I kind of prayed for this… for a re-direction of my time and priority. For wisdom and guidance. And I balked at it. Fought it. Whined. Pounded my fists. Did I waste my answered prayer? I hope not. I hope tomorrow finds me a willing servant on this journey to living the life God has for me.

How about you?

Bully-Beating Thoughts

You can do many things with your mind. With your thoughts. It would take a whole book, I’m sure, to sum up the many nuances of our brain and how it can affect our reality.

I was confronted with the power of thoughts again today- in a very empowering and perhaps even miraculous way.

Here’s a little back story.

My oldest son has lived with us for 4 years. His adoption was finalized a year and a half ago. Previous to that, he was our foster son. He missed 8 very important years of quality education, stability in his home, and the brain-training that occurs in those first five years. This, along with his personality, has made school very difficult. We have had him tested for learning disabilities, attended therapy sessions, tried home schooling, independent study, after school tutoring, after school programs… you name it, if it was offered we tried it. He came to us performing at two grade levels behind his actual grade. In those four years he has progressed considerably. In some subjects he is performing at the lowest level of his actual grade. In other subjects, he’s performing at the higher end of the grade below him.

We finally came to the conclusion, along with his school’s administration, that repeating his sixth grade year would be in his best interest.

This was not an easy decision.

But we believe it was the right one.

We shared this whole process with him. He agreed that having an extra year to really catch up would be beneficial in the long wrong. Did he like the idea? No. Who does? But he “bought in” and was willing to own it and give it a go. This, we all hope, will give him the chance to catch up educationally as well as emotionally and in maturity.

End of backstory.

Today is his second day of his second year in sixth grade.

As I drove him to school I asked about yesterday. Day one.

“How was your day?” I asked

“It was good!” he said, sounding very genuine.

“Did anyone say anything about you being back?”

“Yeah,” he said, “there’s a boy who teased me quite a bit about it. He’s in my class and he kept making surprised faces at me. He also kept telling the other kids in class that I was held back- as if they couldn’t tell.”

“Wow. I thought you said you had a good day. How was it good with all that going on?” I wondered aloud to him.

He went on to tell me about a book that we are very familiar with. It is called “You Are Special” by Max Lucado. It is one of our many (many) children’s books.

Here is the Amazon synopsis:

“Every day the small wooden people called Wemmicks do the same thing: stick either gold stars or gray dots on one another. The pretty ones–those with smooth wood and fine paint–always get stars. The talented ones do, too. Others, though, who can do little or who have chipped paint, get ugly gray dots. Like Punchinello.

In this heartwarming children’s tale from the best-selling pen of author Max Lucado, Eli the woodcarver helps Punchinello understand how special he is–no matter what other Wemmicks may think. It’s a vital message for children everywhere: that regardless of how the world evaluates them, God cherishes each of them, just as they are.”

When Punchinello meets his creator, Eli the woodcarver, and comes to see himself as special and unique… the stickers he has acquired begin to fall off. When the other wood people try to stick more on him… they don’t stick! Punchinello isn’t swayed by popular opinion of himself- he knows who he is! A creation with purpose.

This is the story my son reminded me of this morning.

“Our teacher read it to us in class. And it’s true. The things that mean kid says don’t matter to me. They just roll off.” (Thanks Mrs. Platt!!!!)

This was especially beautiful in light of our last couple of weeks with this child… which have been challenging to say the least. He has so many amazing qualities and gifts and talents- and it’s easy to forget just how great he is when I’m only focussed on all the dots.

And I’ve been known to be a giver of dots and stars.

And I’ve been known to wear dots and stars around- in pride and in shame.

But not today. My son has reminded me that when we choose to believe and know that we are someone special- that God has made us for purposes far greater than any human can label for us- then nothing anyone says matters. Our Creator longs to share with us the many reasons we are who we are- and how we can be used to better our world, ourselves, and His Kingdom.

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. – Isaiah 26:3

You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. — Psalm 139: 1-16

Will you let the opinions of others stick to YOU today? 

You-niquely You

My meanderings meander far more often than I actually have time to record them. Which is a bit frustrating because this results in my mind being constantly filled with such a varying degree of thoughts to be thought and mysteries to ponder that I can become quite distracted and in a constant state of quasi-inspiration, floating in and out of my philosophical mind and the reality of my laundry, dishes, meals to plan, children to rear, etc.

That said, I finally decided to take a moment to share my most recent thought. So recent, in fact, that it only occurred minutes ago.

As many of you know, I am a foster mother, an adoptive mother, a biological mother, and the daughter of a mother. 🙂

My various experiences within these roles came to a point this morning as I recollected various children I’ve mothered and their own biological mothers. One of my foster children had been told by her bio-mother, “It’s okay if I lose you… I can always have more kids.”

!!!!!!!!!!

That poor sweet child, at the age of 13, had a daughter as well. Yes, my 13 year old foster daughter had a baby… without her consent. Regardless, when it became clear that she was unable to care for her child, her response was, “It’s okay, I can always have more kids…”

My heart breaks.

Another biological mother, recently, was released from prison and, free to start her life again, had a baby. To keep this baby, of course, she has to stay clean, follow the rules of the court regarding her former children, and prove she can raise this new child of hers. Well, upon receiving a secret phone call from her young bio-daughter (now in foster care), this mother had to respond with, “Please don’t ever call me again or I could go back to jail.”

I get it. This is her shot at a new life. A life where she actually gets to raise her own children. She’s already lost quite a few to her choices and the consequences of our system.

But to be a child hearing your mother say, “You are replaceable” must be among the most devastating of “realities” that a person could hear, at any age.

The reality is, no one is irreplaceable.

Nope, not even you.

Not at work.

Not at home.

Not at school.

Not at all.

You are the only you. Profound, I know. 🙂

I look at my 3 year old… a million other birthed babies could not replace HIM. Not one would be him. Not one could replace my almost 2-year old. Or my adopted 10 year old. Or my adopted 12 year old. Other children could fill my space and time… but could never be them.

To her biological mother’s great misunderstanding, my 13 year-old foster daughter could never be replaced by her future children. And neither could a new baby replace the one that my foster-daughter lost to the care of a more equipped person.

The daughter whose mother has a second shot at getting life just a little bit right… can’t be replaced. The new baby doesn’t do it. And I know for a fact that this same daughter is absolutely irreplaceable to the family who now desperately loves her and calls her their own.

And so are you. I don’t know your story. Whether you’ve been “replaced.” Or whether you have done the “replacing.” Or maybe you’ve even been asked to replace someone lost… and couldn’t. No one can be you. No one.

And YOU are important. Because you are a life. Planned. Designed. Counted on. Purposed. Called. Created with intention. Your life was not chance. Or a mistake. No accident. Even among the total world’s population… for all of time… not one can be you. Smile like you do. Laugh like you do. Think like you do. Be gifted as you are gifted- with your own special bent and quirks.

You have a purpose. Not just to take up space or breath up air. A destiny.

Even if you don’t believe me, it’s true. Your own belief about yourself can’t even change the reality that you are entirely unique and irreplaceable. This truth doesn’t rely on you believing it.

It just is.

But don’t take my word for it….

“You have searched me, LORD,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, LORD, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts,God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.”

Psalm 139:1-18

(emphasis mine).


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