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Archive for January, 2011

There are moments in this life

When the world around us seems so dark and cold

And there’s nothing left to do

But to stand in the silence and face it all alone

Questions wondering why

We have to face these trials

And is it really worth all this pain

Let me say

He knows.

 

There are moments in this life

When the trials and tribulations seem to never end

And your spirit is so weak

For you feel you have done all you can

You have a broken heart and shattered dreams

And the pieces have all been thrown away

Let me say

He Knows

 

He knows all about the hurt

About the pain

About the tears

And though we don’t understand

And we’re blinded by our darkest fears

So that we can not see our way

Let me say

He Knows.

 

He knows just what you’re going through

He cares and He will carry you

And when you feel like giving up

When your heart has had enough

Let me say

He Knows

 

taken from the song “He Knows” sung by Indiana Bible College & written by Jessica Petty

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Making babies was always an easy thing for me. By the age of 26, I had 3 children under the age of 5. The following year, my fourth child was born. He was a big baby and so, so fussy. I held him in my arms for most of the day (and through the night) just to keep him from crying. The sleep deprivation from caring for him in addition to the other little ones began to wear me down. First, I stopped talking and kept most conversations to a minimum whenever possible, then my hair began to fall out, and (at 5’7″) my weight dwindled down to 110 pounds. Life was literally draining from me and being poured into my children. This went on for 18 months before I began to suspect that something may be wrong with my littlest one. It was 2 months later, at 20 months old, that he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. This coincided with the confirmation of my 5th pregnancy . . .

The neurologist said the left frontal lobe of his brain was malformed, which was going to affect the motor skills of his right side. They were unable to give me a prognosis or assess his cognitive skills, but said he would be monitored and tested every 6 months. Based on his brain scan, the doctor said he would have expected to see much greater deficits in my son, but seemed to think that the constant physical contact of being held in my arms for so much time during his infancy may have helped contribute to the compensation made by the right side of his brain up to this point.

My husband did not take the news of the diagnosis well. He coped by immersing himself into his job while I took our son (along with all the rest of the children) to countless evaluations, doctor appointments, physical therapists, occupational therapists and neuro-psychological testing. I researched and sought out every treatment, procedure and therapy thought to have the most long-term benefits.

When he got close to kindergarten age, I was encouraged to send him to public school where he would have access to “specialists” & “services”. Of course, I wanted what was best for him, but since I was already homeschooling his siblings, I wasn’t sure if the public school was truly our “best” option. He was 4 years and 4 months old when he went in for the routine cognitive testing that was done on him twice a year. In my heart, I always hoped he would score higher than his age level, but my head already knew, based on every previous test, he would score below. “So what if the results showed his cognitive & learning abilities to be delayed?” I would tell myself. “I know he is a sweet, smart boy who makes friends easily and has never let his disability stop him from trying to keep up with his brothers . . .” But the significance of these results were different. They would decide if what I had been doing at home for my beloved boy was working, or if he really did need the “expertise” of those trained in “special education”.

I was called into the doctor’s office with the neurologist and social worker. I could not tell by their faces what the verdict was. The doctor smiled as I entered the room and sat down. The social worker looked serious and quite concerned. The doctor opened the file in front of him while the social worker wrote rapidly on her notepad. “Well”, he began, “over the last 6 months it looks as if your son has not only caught up to his age group in cognitive skills, but he has completely surpassed our expectations and is testing well above the age of the average 6 year old.” The tears of thankfulness for answered prayers began to run down my face. The social worker quickly interjected by saying, “Although, by no means does this indicate that I think you should homeschool him. He has a disability and needs to be educated by people specially trained in this field. There is no way you can provide what he needs in a home environment.” As I looked at the neurologist for his input he said, “I diagnosed your son at 20 months old and saw the amazing results your home environment made to a child who should be severely physically disabled & mentally impaired. I whole-heartedly recommend you continue whatever you are doing. No one will ever be as invested in your son as you are.” With that, I thanked them all and, with my 5 children, we went home.

I have been told that in Old Testament times, people would build altars to remind them of significant events where God manifested His greatness in their life. While this was not the end of our challenges in dealing with my son’s cerebral palsy, this post represents my altar of sorts to remind me and tell others of God’s goodness, love and faithfulness.

Genesis 35:3 We are now going to Bethel, where I will build an altar to the God who answered my prayers when I was in distress. He has stayed with me wherever I have gone.

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The call came about mid-morning. It was a heart attack. With the diabetes and other chronic conditions, the doctor’s did not suspect her heart when she showed up in the Emergency Room that morning complaining of back pain. They medicated her for the pain like they did every day she showed up asking for drugs. Then, we were told, that as she was getting ready to leave the hospital, she collapsed from a massive heart attack and was gone immediately. My mother-in law was dead.

I called my husband at work and gave him the news. He was on a plane for Mexico City within a few hours. His aunt was going to have the body cremated that same day whether or not he was present. My two older children did not want to go. They barely knew her, had no connection to her and my husband did not want the added expense of  paying for their plane tickets. Our three younger children did not have passports, so the next morning I was standing at the passport office to get a same day passport issued. Our flight was leaving at midnight. We had 3 layovers. Traveling through the middle of the night and into the next day (for a total of 14 hours) with 3 young children in a foreign country, went smoothly only by God’s grace.

Once I arrived and was rejoined with my husband, I found it odd to see his family act as if they were on holiday. My mother-in-law had wanted her ashes scattered in the ocean at the family’s vacation home near the beach. After that was done, the time was spent with family at their “club” on the beach, eating, talking, sunning and of course, drinking. I was there as an observer and trying to support my husband, as he seemed to be the only one grieving.  His relationship with his mother was one I never really understood. While she was alive, he experienced much guilt about not being in contact with her regularly, yet never made an effort change this.

The only family that came to scatter the ashes were his aunts and their grown daughters. They are strong matriarchal women who form a type of hen’s group that I watched my husband desperately try to be a part of. When I questioned him about this, he admitted that it was true. He was yearning to re-connect with these relatives and be included in their circle. (and as a result, he was ignoring me) To me, it seemed somewhat “un-masculine” for him to want to sit & “cluck”with these women for hours, but I rationalized his behavior as him wanting to have a connection with the women in his mother’s life. The children & I were obviously not part of this circle and no attempt was made on either side to include or be included. Especially since all of them could speak English but none of them did so in our presence.  But, in honesty, I was only there for my husband and even though he ignored us most of the time, I think he appreciated our presence.

The children and I only stayed a few days. It was a draining trip and I was ready to come home. My husband stayed in Mexico to take care of his mother’s will & (very small) estate. He has no return date to come home yet, and the uncertainty of this is unsettling for me.  To be supportive to my husband I feel like I need to set aside our marital difficulties for now and re-assure him that the children & I will be fine while he attends to his mother’s affairs. Praying for strength for both of us during this time.

Matthew 11:28   Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

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There are days when the memories of my husband’s bad behavior are fuzzy and my life seems less difficult. There are days when I have a glimmer of hope that my marriage will be good and my children will be fine . . .

Then there are days when I look at my world and wonder how much longer I can continue to be married to a man who justifies his emotional abuse by acting as if all our issues are my fault. Where he says I am the one making our life together so hard . . .

There are days when I feel the insanity of the situation fogs my mind and I begin to ask, “Am I the reason my family is dysfunctional?” . . . And then I blog and through writing about my situation, I am able to see reality clearly. This is a journal entry from one of those times:

“I have been giving some thought lately to my husband’s conclusion that in order to regain my identity, I want/need independence from him. While that is partially true, in no way is it that simple. His only focus is on my financial independence from him but he fails to see that my identity is not solely related to money.

First of all, looking at my life before I was married, yes, I was financially independent; (since the father of my first two children was inconsistent in meeting his financial obligation to us) but I was also a person who was heard when I expressed my thoughts and feelings. I was able to raise my children according to my standards, go where I wanted & keep my house the way I liked. When I got married, a lot of that changed. And while that was to be expected, things began to change in a way that caused me to feel less and less valued as a person.

The first changes were the financial ones. My husband immediately became the sole controller of our money. I wonder how he would have felt in my situation if his paycheck went directly into my account, he had no access to it, had to ask for money when it was needed, and had no say in how it was spent. He would have never accepted it, yet as a submissive Christian wife, I was supposed to.

Then came the changes in parenting. Again, how would he have felt if it were him going from being a single parent to a married parent whose opinions are no longer respected and all decisions now needed to be deferred to the “head of the family”. I could make no decision on my own because my new husband acted as if his judgement was superior to mine.

I had no bank or credit accounts with my name and all the cars were registered to my husband.

Some things have changed since those days. My money is now my own and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I do realize that by having our money separate & paying our own set of bills we are financially isolated from each other. I also realize that to successfully join our finances would require communication and cooperation, but I am just not ready for that.

I bought myself a car with my own money & in my own name. My husband reacted by saying he would never drive it or ride in it. Why was it OK for him to have all the cars only in his name up to this point? Why the double standard? These things make me so angry, yet I feel like I can only talk to him about them in the presence of our marriage counselor, so that he will be forced to acknowledge that they are valid issues and not reasons that I invent to be upset about . . . but he doesn’t go to marriage counseling anymore . . .

The parenting issues have also changed, but not for the better. My husband wants to still be the “final authority” but the children are now older & question that authority by asking him to provide reasoning behind his rules. This is difficult for him and he considers their lack of unquestioning obedience as disrespectful. Since it is usually coming from my two older children, my husband is always ready for them to spend less time at home and more time with their (biological) father. This is such a tough situation for me, especially when my daughter cries and says she doesn’t want to spend the weekend at her dad’s house. But my husband will insist and say he “needs a break” from her & her older brother.

I write these things to remind myself of reality on the foggy days. It is not about me having PMS or trying to start a fight or having unwarranted insecurity issues. No matter how often he tries to tell me otherwise, we have REAL problems that are causing damage to myself and our children. ”

I write these things to remind myself of reality on the foggy days . . .

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The word “carpool” has never conjured up negative connotations in my mind . . . until my husband began to carpool. The decision was casually mentioned as an afterthought one day with little significance on what it would entail. When I began to ask questions and was met with defensiveness, I had no strength to pursue the issue further.

Over the course of time, my husband would casually make comments about his “carpooling co-worker”. She was his immediate supervisor at work and since we lived in close proximity to each other, they both thought it was a good idea to share the gas expense that their 45 min commute (each way) was costing. I was immediately uncomfortable with the arrangement but said nothing due to my “self talk” saying that my discomfort was from my own issues & insecurities.

I saw his behavior change slowly. First it was just comments on how nice it was for him to drive her new Audi on their ride in to work. Then the comments on how she would confide in him during their commute. How she was recently separated from her husband and going through a difficult time. Then there were the after-work events they would attend together since they both needed to be at these work related events and they also conveniently carpooled. When he chose to have her accompany him to his Employee Recognition Dinner, instead of me, I was hurt and suspicious. When I tried to talk to my husband about this and directly confronted him about fidelity, he responded by saying he saw no reason why I should have a problem with his behavior since he was just doing the “Christian thing” in being a friend to her.

Then things got even worse. He began doing favors for her. Such as keeping her child’s car seat in his car because he was now picking up her daughter from pre-school. He began taking her mother to doctor appointments. She began calling our house daily and they would meet for miscellaneous reasons on the weekend. Oh, and did I mention the change in his personal hygiene habits? All the while, assuring me, “as God is my witness – there is nothing inappropriate about our friendship” I began to think I was crazy.

I briefly mentioned my lowest point during this time here : https://mygossamerlife.wordpress.com/2010/11/08/i-am-a-self-protector/

It has been a few years since this was at its worst. The relationship eventually ended when she left the organization at which they both worked and moved to another country. My husband has rarely spoken of her since, but the damage that was caused during that time may never be forgotten.

“I had to begin to take responsibility for working through my barriers to love(Boundaries in Marriage – Townsend & Cloud)

Has this breach in trust been another of my “barriers to love”? Is one able to love another despite the actions/attitudes/words of the other person? The Bible says how we are to discern a person’s character:

Matthew 12:34b-35 . . . for whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good words from a good heart, and an evil person produces evil words from an evil heart.

Matthew 15:10 Then Jesus called the crowds together and said, “Listen to what I say and try to understand. You are not defiled by what you eat; you are defiled by what you say and do.”

There are times that I struggle with never really knowing what happened between my husband and this woman, while at the same time my instincts tell me I do know. How does one deal with situations where you struggle between what your instincts are saying and what someone is telling you?

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

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Just when I think that life is too difficult and I feel so alone – I am reminded that I am loved. Not because of anything I have done, just because I am. Sometimes it’s a seemingly insignificant event that reminds me, like finding the closest parking space in a packed lot at the mall. Or at times, it is a really huge burden that is lifted – either way, the overwhelming realization that I am loved is the same. I am humbled and in awe.

Most recently, I had been struggling with the fact that I could no longer afford to pay the tuition at the local private school for my eldest son, and he no longer wanted to be home-schooled. (up to this point he had been attending the private school part-time & I  home-schooled him part-time) Our only option left was the neighborhood public school. It was difficult for my husband to understand why I had such a problem with this. In short, I felt like I had failed my son. I wanted to give him the best education possible and nothing could convince me that the education offered at the public high school was close to being the “best”. My husband’s attitude was, “I went to a public school and look at me, I turned out just fine.” That reasoning gave me no reassurance whatsoever. . .

Over the weekend, we received a phone call from our assistant pastor saying someone from our congregation had anonymously donated the full years tuition for my son to attend the private school. What a blessing! I feel my tears welling up just thinking about it. I am reminded of this verse:

Ephesians 3:20-21   Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, He is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope. May He be given glory for ever and ever through endless ages. Amen.

I had never even considered that, as the result of someone’s generous donation,  my son would be able to spend his senior year at a private school. It was definitely not something for which I had specifically prayed. But I am so thankful that God heard the prayers I did make and this anonymous person listened to His prompting to do such a wonderful thing for us! Again, I will say that I am humbled and in awe of His love for me.

Ephesians 3: 14-19   When I think of the wisdom and scope of God’s plan, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious unlimited resources He will give you (ME) mighty inner strength through his Holy Spirit. And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your (MY) hearts as you (I) trust in Him. May your (MY) roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. and may you (I) have the power to understand as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is. May you (I) experience the love of Christ, though it is so great, you (I) will never fully understand it. Then you (I) will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

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How would you feel if your best friend (spouse) approached you and said, ‘I just wanted to tell you that the only reason we are friends (married) is because I am committed to our friendship (marriage). There is nothing about you that draws me to you and I don’t particularly enjoy your company. But I will keep choosing to be your friend (spouse).’ (Boundaries in Marriage – Townsend & Cloud)

Odd as it may sound, this quote was an eye-opener for me. When I first read it, I could only see how it related to me . . . but as I read it again, I can see how it has also applied to my husband. With me, it sadly but accurately described the views I have adopted on love since getting married. I see love as a choice and marriage as a committment. Not very romantic and not so different after all from when my husband described our marriage as his “cross to bear”. I feel like he married me because I was pregnant (after dating only a few months) and is now obligated to live with the consequences. (for, as he keeps reminding me, divorce is not an option for him)

All relationships need to be based on attachment or they will have a shaky foundation.” (Boundaries in Marriage – Townsend & Cloud)

That seems to describe our beginning. We started our marriage on a less than solid foundation and built our marriage by adding unhealthy issues to an already bad foundation. I know for myself, I didn’t feel very much “attachment” but had plenty of HOPE that it would all work out. (despite the fact that in the short time we dated, I had seen huge red flags . . .) Is there any way of fixing things at this point? Today, I have no hope left.

If anyone out there is reading these posts, you might be able to tell that I have been especially discouraged lately over the state of my marriage. I find that when I blog consistently, I have a better perspective on the need to put energy in addressing my personal issues and less focus on my marital issues. But with the recent busy-ness of the holidays, I have not been able to blog as often and as a result, I feel like I am being oppressed by the darkness of the tunnel I am in, and there is no light in sight. I realize that now is when my faith must be exercised in knowing that even though I can not see the end of this tunnel – it is there. And as I wade through the sewer slime of dysfunction that is in this tunnel, God is with me and if I follow His Words, He will guide me through.

It is so hard to put that into practice when the tension is so palpable at home and depression is attempting to overtake me. . .

Romans 8:16-18 For his Holy Spirit speaks to us deep in our hearts and tells us that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we will share his treasures – for everything God gives to his Son, Christ, is ours, too. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will give us later.

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