Monday, November 24, 2014

The Spirit of Discontentment

You know all the memes about dancing through the storm and what not? It's so easy to pin those and hypothetically imagine myself doing that but in reality I realize even when I pin those pictures or write ideally what I know to be true realistically many times I fall under a spirit of discontentment and no amount of positive pins or idealistic posts will save me until I acknowledge I am under the spirit of discontentment. I guess like many things acknowledging you have a problem is the first step.

I don't know why lately I am more susceptible to this spirit but I am. Last year at work I just made a decision to be discontent with a lot of things. I'm not saying I didn't have a good reason but it didn't help matters. Then this fall when I decided to go back to work and had an unsure feeling if this is what I really wanted or if I was just doing it because I needed to I feel it creeping in again. Either way I should have just accepted it and moved on with a grateful heart which I am now. But I didn't. Instead I began to delve into what got us in this situation. Then from there it spread to everything-discontentment.

The time discontentment really plagues me is around the holidays. I was dazing off and for some reason thought about eating out. We used to eat out, usually Mexican, every Friday. So it was this last Friday and I realized how much has changed. We would not be eating out this Friday because we don't really eat out anymore. It is one of the many things we are doing to save money to help pay off med school loans, our children's school tuition, and mounting debt that is typical when a doctor has over a decade of training but also life doesn't stop for training so beginning a family during training contributes.

Anyway, I remembered last year at this time-Thanksgiving day actually we were moving-literally packing boxes, cleaning out pantries, and moving the day of Thanksgiving. My whole family on my side was at my aunt's house celebrating and as I was cleaning out the pantry of our old house I was purely miserable.

I had been packing for hours, days, it was Thanksgiving Day. My extended family on my side were all together except for me and my husband and kids. I remember reaching up in the pantry high up and I swear I could hear my whole family just laughing together and carrying on. I realized my cell phone had been in the car all day so I gladly took a break and went and checked my phone. Sure enough there was a message. They were all laughing in the background like I knew they would but then they passed the phone around to each other and every relative left me a Thanksgiving message.

I sat in the car and cried. I cried because I was happy they thought of me. I cried because I was exhausted and miserable. I cried because I was so tired of the struggle of residency and medical training and no stability.

What got me thinking about all this though was because after we got everything in our new house that night we went to Cracker Barrel-the restaurant. My kids and husband were laughing, cheerful, and carrying on that night and I was miserable. Purely miserable. I remember the wait on Thanksgiving night felt like hours but we waited standing the whole time. About a month before I had just had a total hysterectomy and while waiting to be seated after moving boxes all day I was in so much pain. I couldn't really relay that information to my husband and kids because they just wouldn't understand.

I remember going to the bathroom just so I could sit down for a few minutes. It's amazing how discontent I was at that moment. Emotionally, physically, spiritually drained.

But looking back I began to think eating Thanksgiving dinner with my husband and kids at Cracker Barrel couldn't have been that bad. And we were moving to a much larger more comfortable house so I had that to look forward to.

Eventually 4 days later we did have Thanksgiving just the 4 of us when every bag and box was unpacked. And I was so proud that we got it all done during the break.

This Thanksgiving we are thinking about visiting home. So I am thinking about how much I would have loved that last year with all that went down. But the spirit of discontentment doesn't care the situation. You can be traveling, staying home during a holiday, in a storm, it hits at random will.

I know it sounds weird but the holidays is the perfect time for discontentment to start. There is the pressure of being in the holiday spirit, gift buying, extended family, etc.

It is hard for us living so many hours away from family. It is a grueling drive and too costly to fly whenever we want to visit. Then there's the issue of time divided by many many loving people that want to spend time with us and that is just family. Guiltily we many times can't even squeeze in a day or half a day for our friends.

Leave it to the spirit of discontentment to take a holiday like THANKSgiving and try to drain all joy from it in the details.

This is a negative spirit that honestly I have allowed to plague me in life-as a mother, as a daughter and daughter in law, as a teacher, as a wife.

But I am realizing that I CAN put a stop to it.

Here are some of the steps I am working on to extinguish discontentment in my life.

1. Respond immediately to those who thrust guilt at me.

Let's face it many family or friends do not know what we go through daily so if you have that one person in your life that preys on you with guilt-don't let them. If you have a member of your family that tries to manipulate with guilt-tell them no. Put an end to it. I'm not good at this but working on it.

2. End sarcasm. I can be very sarcastic with my husband. Usually it stems from a spirit of discontentment not humor. But it never helps a situation.

3. Quit comparing.

It doesn't matter if so and so 's kids play more sports, take more lessons, travel more, etc.

4. Live my OWN life and understand I am on my OWN journey.

5. Stop negative thinking in it's tracks. Metacognition-thinking about my thinking.

6. This has been my worst-quit talking about it-start praying about it.

7. When drowning in discontentment take time off from social media.

8. Count my blessings-literally count them and write them down.

9. And lastly live in the moment. Don't anticipate what others' will say, think, be unhappy about, expect. Just live in the moment trying to be content with the reality of it.

If anyone else is muddling through the holidays wondering am I enough? Did I do enough? Will I visit enough? Did I give enough? Just know you did and quit. Just quit questioning and try to be content with your situation and take all of the goodness in and don't let discontentment in! It's that simple.

Friday, November 21, 2014

This is What I Hoped it Would Be...

The past week has been busy, fulfilling, emotional in good ways. I tutor a student that was mine last year. I go work with him every Monday and Wednesday. On Sunday night I got a call from him that he was just back from the hospital. His blood pressure and heart rate were very high. He was calling to tell me he wouldn't be at school the next day for our tutoring. I couldn't help worry because he is not my child but I care for him very much like he is and I was left feeling helpless.

I spent the next day having a lazy day! Resting.

I had an allergy test on Wednesday so I couldn't get in to see T for tutoring but left a message. I always knew I had severe allergies due to red swollen, itchy eyes. Sneezing. Angry ears, eyes, nose, throat, skin. But what I really wanted to know was was I lactose or gluten intolerant to help me customize my diet as least restrictively as I can while still helping my IC and IBS. I was sent to an allergist by my GI Dr.'s nurse.

After a skin test and 3 hours later they told me everything I was allergic to with proof all over my arms!

Apparently I am severely allergic to dust mites (more than I knew actually!), cats (knew this), cockroaches (who would have even known??), grasses, pollen, and........gulp......a minor allergy to.........dogs!

The good news is that it was minor compared to the dust, cats, grass, and others. They had to inject the dog allergen under the skin with a needle to get it to show a flare so I'm not that worried but I will take more care of keeping him clean and vacuuming and taking my Allegra. My allergist even suggested more than one a day. I was told not to be the person to vacuum anymore, mow the grass, wash and brush the dog, or dust! Hahahhahaha can you even imagine? I do all those things weekly-all at once!

Anyway I digress. Hour #3 they inform me that they don't do the lactose intolerance tests there. So I leave with a lot of nose spray prescriptions and no info on lactose or gluten. They suggest the elimination diet to find out. She says based from what I have tried it could be gluten sensitivity.

Anyway, after the torture allergy test appointment I get to meet W for his Thanksgiving feast at school. He is so happy to have Paul and I there with him. It felt so good to sandwich him in at the lunch table and just have our presence there with him, our little 2nd grader!

I didn't eat although it looked and smelled delicious because afterward I rushed over to have lunch with my long lost girlfriends who I haven't seen in ages because they are busy having babies and once you have a new baby you go MIA for a while which I understand! It was great. We caught up as much as we could in an hour!

It was a great day. This is the first time I have had time to do all of those things-dr. appointment, be at my son's school function, AND lunch with the girls?? This is the kind of day I had hoped for. And all in time to casually head on over to the kids' car lines at school. No rush. No big deal.

Then yesterday (Thursday) I decided to head over to the middle school to check on my T. When I got there he was still absent. This alarmed me a bit since he's been out all week. He's not usually absent unless he's very sick or the bus doesn't pick him up. So I went in the hall and called his mom. He was still sick and very dehydrated. I went and told the principal who didn't know he was even sick. Then I went to W's school and substitute taught for a pre-first grade class.

It was an interesting experience for sure! Teaching 6 year olds for the first time (I'm used to 10 year olds). But what really made an impact on me was the teacher. She has had some serious health issues-has overcome cancer twice and now is looking for a solution to some health problems so she can simply continue teaching. She is a veteran teacher and I was amazed at how she just loved those kids. How much she had and is going through and still working as much as she can. Because she loves it.

Note to self-6 year olds are NOT my niche!

At the end of the day I picked up my own kids and went to the grocery store to pick up some groceries and pick up some things for T.

I got everything I would want if I had been dehydrated or sick or what I would want to give my own kids!

Orange Juice
fruit popsicles
Ben and Jerry's icecream
cans of progresso chicken noodle soup
homemade sour dough bread
cheese sticks
ritz crackers shaped like snowflakes
a gigantic Hershey's bar
Gingerbread cookies

The kids and I drove over to T's house to deliver it. It was good to see that he was ok. His mom and grandmother invited us in but we just dropped the things off and left quickly since T was sick. He was happy to see me and M since they were in 3rd grade together. On the way home I felt like crying. Seeing how much they needed those things. Knowing many of those things would not be a necessity for them but a treat.

As I drove home I realized how lucky I am. We are. My family. How spoiled even in the tight and tough times. I realized my rough days are still a dream compared to so so many single moms and kids all over our country. It made me happy that I had the day to focus on T knowing if I were working all this year I would not have the time or the energy to focus on him and his family like I was able to.

I prayed for the teacher I subbed for after she left. I prayed for T's healing in the parking lot of the middle school that day. On my ride home I prayed for his single mother who cares for him and his sister as well as her mother.

I got home and unloaded my groceries.

I cooked a luxurious meal.

I looked around our home. It was so much. Too much. I felt ashamed that I would ever worry. Ever feel any discontentment after experiencing this day.

I am healthy. I don't have cancer or any major debilitating illnesses. I have job opportunities and a higher degree and can just go in to work when we need extra money. I have food in my kitchen. Not just the necessities but a German Chocolate cake on my counter I got to make with my son who loves cooking. Twizzlers hiding in the pantry. Milk, juice, cheese, meat. Everything we could possibly need. My kids don't want for anything.

I woke up today and like everyday this week I woke my kids up. I brewed my husband's coffee and fixed it the way he likes in his travel mug. I made lunches for the 3 of them. I cooked scrambled eggs and served them with apple fritters. I brought my kids to school. I cleaned our house and enjoyed being in it filled to the brim with peace and quiet. I washed the allergens from the dog! I baked myself some lemon poppyseed muffins and made myself the perfect healing tea with white Christmas tea, marshmallow root, peppermint tea, chamomile, ginger paste, and honey.

And I sat being thankful. This is exactly what I had hoped for when I wanted to stay at home this year. I wanted to care more intentionally for my kids and husband, my home, even my dog who was spending the day in the bathroom all last year when I worked everyday. I wanted to spend quality time with my friends being there for each other through life. I wanted to help others, serve others, serve Him. I wanted to do it joyfully with peace and serenity not like a frenetic stress tornado. And this week that's what I got to do. That's what I hoped this staying home business would be like!

Monday, November 17, 2014

My Cordial Cherry of the Day :)

The holidays are here! At least in my house! At first it started with me finding these gems at the local grocery store:

Cordial Cherries. The time of year I love to eat them is NOW! And the grocery store knows this! So this cherry purchased the first of Nov has lead to this!

It's like timing is everything in life right? Learning, joy, pain. It's the main ingredient.

A few years ago (about 4) I was feeling a very frightening anxious feeling all the time. I was always the one in my family that didn't suffer from anxiety so it was an uneasy feeling for me. We had just moved to Nashville. I didn't have a job yet and it wasn't set in stone where my kids would attend school. My husband was starting a brand new residency at a new hospital with new people. I didn't have a single friend in town yet. Even after the loose ends of schools and work were tied up for me I was still anxious. It was a scary feeling that I couldn't make go away. I was on my 3rd move since I was married. With every move came new jobs, schools for my kids, home, discombobulation of my brain! Months after we were settled my stomach was still in knots my nerves were always fired up. Anyway, I talked to my mom about this uneasy feeling. I pinned this Bible study on my I <3 Books Pinterest board and then about a week later my mom sent it to me.

I studied the first 2 chapters word for word. I prayed the prayers and honestly I made 4 amazing wonderful friends after I started teaching. I set the book down never to be picked up again. Until today.

I finished my Frazzled Female Bible Study and again was feeling anxious. Maybe because it's genetic, maybe finances, maybe just being a mom and wife around the hectic holidays. I don't know but I picked it up and started the Bible study again. And honestly I think the timing was all in God's perfect time.

This morning was FREEZING! I put on my fleece lined leggings and woke the kids up. Got them stirring and dressed and headed downstairs to let the dog out. I made the husband's coffee, packed a couple of lunches, scrambled eggs, toasted waffles, packed snacks, checked backpacks, got a hug and kiss and sent them all on their merry way!

I went and got my Bible Study and turned to the last place where I had underlined and jotted notes to pick up where I left off about 3 nearly 4 years ago.

Here is where I left:

All about controlling our negative thoughts and actually practicing praying over worrying. Right where I needed to pick up after 4 years of setting this book down. 3 houses later the book is back in my lap and helping to heal me in places I didn't even know needed healing.

This reminded me a lot of the beginning of this Bible Study I read and liked:

But I love this one even more. Some of the things I read today had me so inspired, enlightened, comforted I had to share it.

The beginning verses were all about how God made us, Designed us exactly as we are. It made me think of how much thought was probably put into that. It made me think of all my imperfections (or what I think are imperfections). It also reminded me of my children making me a gift. They have given me so many from daycare. Last night I convinced my husband to put up our Christmas tree way earlier than usual. My favorite things are the little paper ornaments that are traced outlines of my kids' toddler hands. Those are the ones that I cherish the most. We laugh and remember. We treasure that stage of their lives as we proudly over load the tree until it's a fire hazard.

I thought about the mothers' day presents I've gotten.

This little vase you wouldn't know how much I love it. How perfect it is in it's imperfections. W gave it to me when he was just 1 year old and painted it himself. Did I return it or criticize it because it wasn't a custom crystal vase? No! I cherish it. I put it where I can see it everyday. I put roses in it from my rose bush. It is perfectly imperfect.

Take a look at these two pieces of pottery-

The first is my everyday China I picked out before our wedding. Paul and I picked it out together, it's called Night and Day haha perfect for us and our personalities. But other than that it is replaceable. The second I made the day after my birthday the day before W's and he was going to be 3.

I chose the color of the paint. My favorite color. I carefully drew the design. I let the kids pick the colors and put their little handprints on it. It is more valuable than the first. Why? It was made with love and filled with a memory of me and my children and friends on that day.

This piece of Wedgwood China can be replaced.

But this plate is one of a kind.

The next two excerpts from "Calm My Anxious Heart" Spoke So very deeply to me and drove home the point we are all one of a kind masterpieces.

We are made with love. That is why we are priceless. Not because of a detail valued by the world.

I have to say my mom is and was a great mom to me as a daughter. She never, not once criticized or alluded to anything negative about the way I look. Not once. If anything she praised me with overflow of my physicalities. When I was a teenager I was once asked by a woman my weight over the dinner table. When I stated it, it was met with "I didn't know you weighed that much!" I didn't really think it was an odd number? But it stung. That's not something my mom ever did. She was always, "You are beautiful, you are perfect the way you are!" She knew I was made whole.

I read on today and there was a poem by Helen Keller. It was so beautiful. It made me think about things I haven't in a long time.

I realized it was possible that Helen Keller was deaf and blind for a purpose. A miracle disguised as disabilities. It made me ponder on my life. My son. He was born with severe hearing loss. We to this day don't know why. At the beginning it came as a shock to me because my 2 pregnancies were the same. I did the same things. The first year of his life appointments were frequent. The geneticist told me hearing loss usually gets worse not better. So we had many many hearing tests done to determine his needs and to see if there were any significant changes. I went to them alone. My husband was in a grueling general surgery residency and lived many days and nights at the hospital. Dealing with this new challenge with another 3 year old precious daughter- well, it was painful.

I remember crying one night and W was in the basinet beside our bed. My husband asked what was wrong and I said I couldn't "fix" what was wrong with W. My husband's words surprised me. He said, "He doesn't need to be fixed." He knew what took me a little longer to realize. W was whole as he was.

Someone made a comment to my husband that what my child needed was prayer. This ripped my heart out when I read it. It ripped my heart out because who could be praying for the baby I carried in my body for 40 weeks more than me?

It ripped my heart out because every hearing appointment I went to alone I would nurse W until he fell asleep because he had to be perfectly still for the hearing test to work so I held him perfectly still while they stuck little suction cups to him testing neurological signals and prayed. During every test I prayed the whole time-every one. I don't know if any prayer can be stronger than a new mother's prayer with her sleeping baby in her arms. But sometimes God knows what was planned and doesn't grant what we don't need. Somethings are designed with a purpose we can't know.

But this woman that said this to my husband was wrong. So was I. I truly believe my son. Me. Our family of 4 would not be the family we are if W was born differently. I believe his hearing is part of his miracle and his plan in this life as much as Helen Keller's was for her. My husband knew this. It saved him heartache and worry. I wished I would have gotten it sooner. I realized reading today we are whole. Not because of our body-our breasts, our ears, our sight, our stomachs. But because of our soul.

So here I am. Sitting imperfectly feeling like all is well in the world for a moment.

Because of the timing of this book. I realize I give power to the things of the world that are false. I can change that by my thoughts.

Here is the reality of my great night last night:

Here is the Instagram of the night-

I don't know if you missed it so here's the pic I didn't post on any social media!!

Did you notice what was missing in the others? My belly!

And no! I am not pregnant I have had a total hysterectomy to get rid of endometriosis. That belly is here to stay (unless tucked or sucked out!) Even though I have ran, walked, or biked a total of 25.8 miles last week I have a belly.

Even though I have focussed on abs this week and done squats every time I go to the laundry room (ten per trip) I still have a belly! Maybe because it is my grandmother's, aunt's, mom's, and sister's shape. Maybe because of this?

I came across these pictures the other night because W asked me what I looked like when he was in my belly. And so I went back to our old pictures and showed him these. Wow. It put everything into perspective. How blessed. What a privilege to experience carrying him and his sister for 9 months. What a miracle!

The world tells us we are never enough because we aren't perfect. The Lord tells us we are whole and perfect not because of our body or abilities but because of his love! So that is what I am delighting on today like those perfect cordial cherries that bring sweet memories of my sister eating them and placing the cherry back in the box knowing I her little sister would come behind her and eat it!

That's my delicacy of the day! My cordial cherry! I am whole because of his love. And he made me all of me. He made me soft and sensitive so I could mother my children and touch the lives of my students. He made me creative and wordy to give peace, hope, love, to other moms and women, and he made my body as His temple.

We are whole.