Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Pretty Bow

I know yesterday's post was a bit of a downer, but over the last year I have been trying to make the concept of "real time" friendships part of the way I live.

One of my wise friends introduced me to the concept and it has stuck in my mind.

The idea is that to feed your friendships and to grow deep roots and sweet fruit in community, I have to let go of my need to present myself as "in control."

I have a tendency to like to tell my sad stories once they have a happy ending. I am learning forbearance and the art of under-reacting to difficulties, knowing that in most cases something that strikes me as traumatic will most likely seem less significant a few days or weeks after the event.

But just because something will eventually get better, doesn't always mean that I need to white-knuckle my way through a hard time alone.

Hence the "real time" conversations. It is the practice of saying, "This is where I am right now. I recognize that it will be different in the future, but at this very moment, I am struggling."

Real time feels so dangerous to me. I wonder what people will think, if they hear the "I can't do it" on the front end of an experience, and never hear the "I did it" or more likely, "God did it!" of the resolution. I am often aware of the challenge of presenting hard times without being a whiner and of knowing what times are appropriate to share a genuine struggle.

I am by no means a master of this kind of relationship, but I would like to be one day. So for now, I will simply try and try again!

All of that to say that yesterday was the beginning of a journey ...

it is probably somewhere in the middle
since I feel like
I have been traveling toward an
awesome and unknown destination
for some time.
I figure I am about half-way up a glorious,
though steep,
mountain pass.
Every few switchbacks I get to pause
and see the ever-changing view
and admire the vastness of the world,
but then I must continue on,
moving up at whatever
slow and steady pace I can manage.

And God, in his infinite grace, poured fresh and refreshing air into my lungs this afternoon.

I am still tired, overwhelmed and confused, but to my practical self, already I am seeing a transformation in the two that joined our family on Monday.

I understand more of what is being said to me, and I feel bold in bringing them into the way I parent.

There is always an awkwardness that accompanies the transition from a safe and warm welcome, to integrating a child into the flow of our house.

Today I crossed that line and started to establish routines and boundaries rather than just cuddle and mitigate the stress I image the children are experiencing.

That means that we did time-outs, I said "no" when appropriate, and I got to splurge on a pair of pink suede shoes that made baby girl's eyes shine.

Two children
came into my home with nothing.
However long they stay,
they will at leas
t leave with a weeks worth of clothing
and the small toys
I was able to purchase for them.

I have picked a few places to focus my efforts and through repetition (oh it is mind numbing!), consistency and God's infinite grace, already changes are happening.

To see them in writing makes them seem small, but anyone who is parenting - or has recently parented - toddlers and preschoolers understands the victories of hearing "please" and "sorry" unprompted and of putting children to bed and having them stay there without a fit, are huge.

At one point today all four of my under-5 club were asleep or quiet at the same time. Yes I am that awesome.

Later in the day we all sat for 15 minutes and did a craft project, followed by another 20 minutes of playing with Play Doh.

After a hard rain it was cool enough to play outside so I brought out the speakers and put on dancing music. We colored with sidewalk chalk and jumped around, enjoying ourselves greatly.

And if I were not already the most remarkable (of course I am being facetious here) mother today, I set the table with a simple dinner that all 11 people in my home enjoyed. Sweet victory!

But wait, there is more...

To ice the cake, I single-handedly diapered, changed, brushed teeth and tucked into bed the four-under-five in less than half an hour (Actually, I didn't do all the tucking by myself, for which I am thankful! Way to go Andy!).

Rah Rah Sis Boom Bah! GOOOOOOOO Emily!

The humbling and heart-heavy realities of what I have been entrusted with are still present. I am still unsettled and still so tired that I have lost all sense of propriety and am planning on eating a spoonful of chocolate frosting after I publish this post. But despite the frightening unknown and the sobering known, I have moved forward. That is something to celebrate.

I am so very grateful that God's ability isn't dependent on my courage. His goodness isn't altered by my depravity. His love isn't thwarted by my hard heart. His ways are beyond my ways - unmarred by blemishes.

Oh God, thank you for being the same yesterday, today and forever!

And thank you friends for standing with me! Your prayers made a difference in the day!


Ashley said...

Em, There is so much beauty in these last two posts. Your vulnerability, your trust in God, the progress made in the children, etc. God is so good and it is bringing tears to my eyes to think about what is happening in the Spirit realm and in these children's hearts and lives as you pour out the gifts and love that God has given you to these children. It's truly a beautiful thing. I have a feeling God is proud of you too:) Good job. Love you as always! XOXO

Robyn said...

I am so truly blessed by everything you write. You are amazing and that is something to celebrate. God couldn't have picked a better mother or temporary mother for each of those children. Love exudes out if you.... Your strength is remarkable, even in the moments when you feel like you have none. We are all praying for you! My heart melts everytime i read what you write and i can't help but see the fingerprints of our heavenly father all over this... Thank you for being raw and real and sharing your life with us, on the outside looking in.... Sending the biggest hugs your way!

Jason, Allison and Elliott said...

You are amazing, my friend. Thank you for your honesty and openness. You are so missed here, but obviously doing meaningful, important work there.