Tuesday, July 29, 2014

some heart behind our cookies

we baked yesterday. elijah asked to make cookies and i said yes, even though it was 94 degrees outside. we turned our oven to 350 and whipped up a quick batch of sweets. 1 cup peanut butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 egg. roll in cinnamon sugar, criss-cross, bake 10 minutes and enjoy. i shared this photo on instagram yesterday and i wanted to say more about my saying yes.

i've read many inspiring articles and blog posts about motherhood, and written a few thoughts myself. about the importance of being present, listening intently, focusing on our families, taking care of ourselves so we can be our best for our kids, embracing the chaos and choosing to say yes, especially when it's inconvenient...i love all that. i agree with all that.

it's been a little different for me. my original idea of motherhood is a faded memory now. i was prepared to be that focused, listening, fun mom. i wasn't prepared for my son being non-verbal, offering nothing much for me to listen to.  i wasn't prepared for working so hard to have my son be interested in me. at first, i was frustrated and discouraged. it felt like, "hey! i was ready to be an awesome mom, and you don't even care!" i felt helpless, because it turned out, i didn't really know that much. and i wasn't awesome.

god reminded me that he himself is the awesome one. the best listener. the best source of wisdom and love. i asked him to help me. to show me how to be the best mom for elijah. and i'm still asking him.
i'm learning to listen to my son, whether he's speaking or not. because communication isn't limited to speech. learning that he does care, about everything, even when i can't understand his way yet. i'm learning what makes my son tick, what excites him, and no matter how quirky, i enjoy encouraging his interests.
elijah is now becoming more verbal, blasting us with new sentences every week! it's been a joy to see him express himself with words. i'm still not accustomed to him asking for things, it's like a surprise every time. when he speaks, i want him to have my attention. he's desiring to communicate with language and i want to encourage him. by responding well. so if he asks me to play/make/do something, and it's safe and available, i try to agree. 

"make cookies, mama?"
"cracka egg, elijah do it?"
"good job, mama!"

i say yes because i want him to keep asking me. i want to delight in him, and i want him to see my joy. to connect with him. i want him to know that he's important exactly as he is. language or not, eye contact or not, i want to be with him. i want to know him. i want to learn his language.
my expectations have changed, my view of myself and my son has changed. i have different plans and new hope. i still get frustrated and we've a long way to go. but we're together on the same path now, and i'm loving learning with elijah. i mean, who doesn't love a way paved with cookies?

Monday, July 28, 2014

two weeks until kindergarten

i've lost count of the days, but this boy has been sweet company every bit of summer so far. i don't want these days together to end! he starts school very soon, which is awesome. i'm trying to view it as more time to rest and get things done, instead of time apart from elijah. because truly, nothing is getting done and i get no rest right now :) but i do love it.

i'm going school supply shopping tonight, that really makes things feel real. and expensive. ha!
the kindergarten transition is difficult for every family, add autism into that sea of emotion and it feels like i'm drowning. plus we're in a totally new school system! we did a lot of research before we moved. we chose an apartment just a short drive from the school we wanted for elijah. it seemed like everyone was directing us to this school, assuring us it would be a wonderful fit for elijah. we prayed and prayed, and the lord gave peace. days after arriving in our new city, we registered elijah for kindergarten! it was great to see the school and meet a few faces, and it felt really right there. but. i've been struggling with anxiety over this whole thing.

nobody knows elijah here. will staff really be able to give him what he needs? will he be encouraged in his abilities? will he be overlooked? will he have friends? unending questions really. and sadly i don't always pray about them first, i just fuss and fuss over them and get myself all worked up. ridiculous! you know what? god is so kind. in my weakness, he showed up with more peace and encouragement. 
we attended a dinner at the pastor's home of the church we've been visiting. it was such a good time, meeting people and getting to know the pastor and his wife. i was chatting with the pastor, he asked about elijah and we started talking a bit about autism. a lady nearby overheard us, and when i turned around to refill my coffee cup, she introduced herself. she said something like, "you were talking about your son? about autism? how old is he?" i shared that he was entering kindergarten and told her which school. then she told me she works at his school. she's a speech teacher for the preschool. she then told me about the teachers there, about how many are believers and do bible study together. praying for the school. she told me how they really love the students are are super good about assessing needs and meeting them. it was so good to hear this from someone who works for the school. my eyes were welling with tears, and i worked hard not to start a messy weep fest of relief. i tried to keep cool and just tell her how awesome it was to hear this about elijah's new school! i told her how anxious i was and she kept encouraging me about everything.
these small little bits of conversation were a giant wave of comfort to me. it was like god telling me to just. chill. out. he's in control. he knows more about what elijah needs than anyone else, including me, and he'll see to it that those needs are met. always.

first thing tomorrow morning i have a meeting with the special education director and other staff. i'm excited to connect and discuss this new adventure elijah will begin soon! if you think of us, please pray for wisdom and clear understanding as we make plans for elijah. 

two weeks until kindergarten!

Friday, July 25, 2014

when dirty dishes tell a freedom tale

i went to bed last night with dishes piled in the sink. and they'll be there until i finish this post. this is completely out of character for me. for an old me anyway. old me broke an anxious sweat even considering leaving dishes in the sink for one. single. minute. i'd say things like "no way can i go to bed/leave the house/have company if ___ isn't done! ahhh i can't breathe!"
being clean and neat is my favorite. it comforts me, makes me feel less vulnerable. it helps me forget things like pain and regret. so i thought.

i was reminded of this quote yesterday:
"perfectionism is a self destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: if i look perfect, and do everything perfectly, i can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment and blame." brené brown
i remember when i first read that, i highlighted the crap out of it. and cried. 

my love for clean and orderly has been strong for most of my life. much of that time, my passion for sparkle and organization was motivated by shame. shame from offending and being offended against. the affects of sin truly color every facet of our lives, i'm sure you know what it's like. i think i was working so hard to do just as that quote above says "avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgement and blame". the problem with this method though? it doesn't work. no amount of dusting, scrubbing, shining, filing or labeling can make those things disappear. in fact, in my experience, i believe it made my shame problem worse. i was looking for ways i could manage/mask/fix things on my own. after years of being devoted to "looking good", i'm committed to facing the real filth, in my heart. this hurts, runs deep and i know it will take time undo these harmful habits of keeping up appearances. so far, i am encouraged to say it's going well. god is faithful. he hears us when we call him!

i love you, lord;
you are my strength.
the lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior;
my god is my rock, in whom i find protection.
he is my shield, the power that saves me,
and my place of safety.
i called on the lord, who is worthy of praise,
and he saved me from my enemies.
the ropes of death entangled me;
floods of destruction swept over me.
the grave wrapped its ropes around me;
death laid a trap in my path.
but in my distress i cried out to the lord;
yes, i prayed to my god for help.
he heard me from his sanctuary;
my cry to him reached his ears.
psalm 18:1-6 nlt

in my attempts to clean all the things away, i was only minimizing my view of the power of christ and his cross. 

you were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. then god made you alive with christ, for he forgave all our sins. he canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. in this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. he shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross. colossians 2:13-15 nlt

he canceled my record. nailed it to the cross. and disarmed satan, taking away his tool of shame's power over my life. there is nothing i can add to that! i never earned this freedom, not with cleaning or being a good person or doing good things.

god saved you by his grace when you believed. and you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from god. salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. for we are god’s masterpiece. he has created us anew in christ jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. ephesians 2:8-10 nlt

this freedom, salvation and fellowship with jesus, is a gift. not salvation plus my cleaning schedule. or plus anything else. gifts are free, in case you need reminding like i always do. the cross is enough. it's enough to release the bonds of shame forever. i can believe that it's mine, and trust the giver, and give him praise. every minute of every day. i am free to make beautiful to-do lists, organize and clean my kitchen, and i'm free to leave dishes in the sink. i can be happy if my house is neat or not, because my identity is in jesus alone.

cleaning isn't wrong. enjoying cleaning isn't wrong, although people make fun of me. but cleaning doesn't make me clean. it's not my filth that keeps me from abundant life in christ. it's my cleanliness that isn't clean enough. in the same way god's shown me freedom with food, he's showing me freedom in my dirty dishes.

i don't want to miss opportunities to worship the lord, love well, meet a need or laugh with loved ones because i'm so busy with my shame management. jesus, help me. 
my cleaning for the wrong reasons habit crept back up when we moved recently. i'm in a new city, with a new apartment (that i don't like much, by the way). when everything around me is changed, it has a way of showing me my real self (pride, idols of my heart, self-reliance). and my real self still has a long way to go with jesus. good news is, he's got time for me and grace for my mess.

Friday, July 11, 2014

sweet home alabama

we've been in alabama for over a month. perhaps you can tell by these instagram pics, it kinda already feels like home. on the other hand, we're all feeling a little displaced and trying to get our footing here. hope glimmers above the gloom of leaving north dakota comfort, family and routine. days have have been long and sometimes sad, but also brimming with excitement and fun over new discoveries as we attempt to lay down our roots. it's difficult though, to lay roots in one place when you feel like they're still planted elsewhere. we're adjusting. and it's more fun than it sounds maybe? i've grown accustomed to making adjustments, and that doesn't at all mean i love the process, like i love pizza or the beach. but i love it still. stretching with my family, learning more to trust god and not myself is always good. amen.

our laptop has been a real fickle piece of work. it's working tonight, so i'm checking in. to say i'm still here, and that i probably have a lot to say. as my technology allows, of course. 
in a few weeks, elijah begins kindergarten. and that, my friends, is a whole 'nother adjustment. i'm already weeping and we haven't even bought school supplies yet. how is he old enough for all day kinder. how? anyway, that time away will breed lots of blogging and shop time, i hope. i'm hungry for connecting here again and sharing some work that's been happening in me. plenty of shaking up in my heart and soul, much like our big move across the country!

anyway. hello, happy weekend! XO

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

book giveaway - christ in the chaos

giveaway closed
one month from now our family will be on the road, heading toward our new adventure. in the midst of all the crazy that comes with preparing to move across country, i'm trying to seek peace and rest in the lord. sadly, i'm not doing a very good job. so grateful for grace and new mercies daily. i'm so encouraged though, because the best thing i did last week was make time to read this little book:

stop comparing yourself to others.
stop striving to meet false expectations.
stop thinking your performance dictates your worth.
look to the gospel.
find rest, joy, sufficiency, identity and motivation."

seeing those words on the back cover was freedom. what a humbling reminder! this book was for me.
now, christ in the chaos: how the gospel changes motherhood is not only for mamas. i truly think the liberating, encouraging chapters are for anyone. we all need to be looking to the gospel rather than our own strength and what we can or can't accomplish. the truth kimm crandall so honestly shared refreshed me. she's reminded me that yes, i'll fail. all the time. and i can run to christ and rest in his never ending grace. every. single. time. hallelujah! at the end of the little chapters there are some awesome "getting real" questions to encourage reflection and draw you closer to freedom in christ. i have a renewed desire to look to jesus, in all things, especially the chaos that is my life! 

from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. john 1:16 esv

like i said, things are incredibly chaoitc for us right now, so i get it. you may not think you have time to read a book. make time for this one! it's super short and life-giving. and lucky you, kimm has graciously offered a giveaway for y'all! you can enter to win a copy for yourself!

giveaway closed 
congratulations becca stanley and eryn hall!

several chances to win!
1. mandatory entry, leave a comment on this post
2. social share this giveaway on facebook, instagram, twitter, leave a separate comment for each
3. follow kimm on facebook, twitter (you will love her so much!)

TWO people will win! giveaway open to usa readers and will close sunday, may 4. random winner will be chosen and announced here, as well as contacted via email, so make sure we can reach you!

big thank you to sweet kimm for sharing her book with us!
purchase christ in the chaos for you and your friends here.