Saturday, January 22, 2011

It is not the critic who counts

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."

Words to live by. Especially vindicating for the pastoring family I think...and the devoted Christian.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The struggle of a mother in a feminist world

I have hesitated to write anymore because of one person's criticism, but I'm going to continue because I just well...need to. Is that a bit indulgent? Yes. Alas, I am indeed human, and a young one. So off I go.
This post will be a sad one. Just a warning.
This last year has been the most trying on my self as a mother. There have been the spiritual doubts, those absolutely come up a close second. And there have been the burdens of carrying a church in your heart, and the loneliness of living away from friends and family...but the one thing that has made me want to pack up and head back to Mac, have been the pains of struggling through motherhood alone.
This has been an incredible learning experience for me. Such a hard learned lesson of myself as a human being. When did I get so anxious and overwhelmed? When did I turn into such a tired, angry, nagging woman? Was I always so short tempered and type A? be fair, I think the answer to all of those is, I have always had those tendencies in my personality. I've always been a bit too short tempered, too type A. Easily overwhelmed and prone to anxiety.I've never slept well or enough and I have always been unrelenting when I want my way. I female or WHAT?! ha ha ha...
But those characteristics were small shadows, whispering demons if you will, that once pressed to capacity became shouting, roaring dragons that threatened me...and my kids..and our ministry (read Johns sanity)
     Back in McMinnville I struggled with being a mother. I was thinking back trying to remember if this all started in Chico, and it did not.
I want to give a quick flash of how young I was when I became a mother, and the crazy  escalation my life has been on. I was eighteen when I got married, nineteen when I had Mailey, and twenty the week I found out I was pregnant with Emry. I found out on a Tuesday, and Friday we were announced as McMinnville's newest outreach directors, that following Monday I began to hemorrhage badly and was told I would lose the baby, I went under and woke up several hours later to hear I was indeed still pregnant and would recover from massive internal bleeding. Seven months later I was being prepped for an emergency C-section. 17 months later we were being announced into Chico and I was just realizing I was pregnant yet again. We moved to Chico and four months later had little Reagan via Cesarean. Three months after that we had our first revival; and that Wednesday I began to miscarry a baby I had not come to terms with yet. The guilt that followed the relief was overwhelming and scary, and I slipped into a depression I didn't realize had engulfed me.
I have known several people who have had miscarriages, my own best friend has had three and my mother as well. I've been an outside observer on the painful process of losing one's baby. But this caught me completely off guard.
I knew I was miscarrying right away, and as awful as it sounds, I was immediately relieved. It was horrifying. I couldn't understand my emotions. I was in shock looking back; but then, I was just so overwhelmed at the thought of being pregnant so soon after our third baby (she was only 12 weeks old) and still postpartum and emotional, and so I at first felt an odd, painful relief. And this relief created an enormous aching confusion and guilt, and as days turned into two weeks of miscarrying I started to shut down. I never cried, rarely spoke about it, just dealt with it all so privately. I didn't even tell my mother until it was completely over. But I felt like I was being crushed under a suffocating weight.
Finally several weeks later, I was driving alone in John's truck, it was night time and I had the windows down and Ingrid Michaelson was booming out of the speakers as loud as I could get it, I remember the bass feeling like my heartbeat it was so tangibly loud. And as Ingrid sang, "someday in the future, you're gonna come're gonna come back to me..." it really hit me. I lost a baby. A baby. It was like that heavy thought triggered this flashback of the last few weeks and it all caught up to me, as if I'd been living a few steps ahead of my emotions, but suddenly they had all caught up and were looking into the mirror with me. I suspect every mother who miscarries has done this, but I began to figure out my due date, and wonder what this child would've been, a boy? a girl? another red head? a dimpled hard headed toddler who could've grown up to change the world? all these thoughts and emotions until finally those wonderful tears came. Just water flowing down my face, I still was absorbing it all...and my heart began to ache and ache and I remember feeling so angry and defeated.
Surely this wasn't God's plan? Had I somehow caused this by my unhappiness at my pregnancy? Had my ugly emotions caused my body to abruptly end this pregnancy? It was all too much, and I remember closing my eyes (I'm driving about 65 down the freeway at this point) and just screaming until my throat ached and all the air went out of my lungs, probably only 10 seconds; but when I couldn't scream any longer, I opened my eyes and lo an behold, I was still in the right lane going in a straight line and I suddenly felt okay. Like I needed to just really deal with it all. And yes, that was scary to scream while flying down the road, but at the time I really didn't care if I crashed, I didn't care if I hit someone, I just had to let that emotion go. And it was as if God showed me something....yes that hurt so much I thought I would die. But I faced it squarely, and I acknowledged its heartbreak, and then even though I closed my eyes and everything became so uncertain for just a short while, and although I thought I would never come out of that depth; as soon as I opened my eyes, the road was straight, I was still headed in the right direction, and with the situation having been placed in its proper context (instead of me avoiding it, thus giving it so much power over me) it diminished mightily. And I could move on.
I will write more later about mothering my present three..but it felt so good to get that off of my heart. phew. big big big sigh of much needed relief.
more tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The year of our Lord...lets move on

I removed the last post because I think the point was made...and when I look back through all these post's about our first year, I don't want to be reminded about that women's phone call. SO! moving on.

I had to laugh the other day as John read my post's, because we realized I really have the actual order of events very wrong. I literally cannot remember when things happened, it was all such a blur. But I'm just going to talk about what we went through. Just know its not in the order in which events happened, but in the order I remember them! ha.

It was around this time that I began to really struggle. We had been in Chico for almost five months and I was about to have our third little girl. John wasn't employed at this time, and I really really believe that was God moving for us, because I would've simply fallen to pieces if I would've been alone all those days.
However, if you know John, you know he has an incredible persistence. I cannot remember a day where John just took it easy, where he just lounged. I can't. And its both maddening and so absolutely respectable I can barely stand it.
This post is going to be scattered, there's so much I want to say...just bear with me.
I've begun to realize that all those weaknesses we struggle with in our home church, the ones that don't seem particularly problematic, but persist...those become exaggerated and glaring when you are out on your own. It's like your home church and your family where you are most comfortable, provide this protective cover over you, that keeps you in check and reminds you whats right. And then when you step out of that, its as if suddenly someone has ripped a band-aid off your heart, and suddenly those carefully guarded issues begin to manifest in your life. Its a pain I almost can't bear sometimes.
In McMinnville, I always knew I wasn't a super social person. I had a tendency to not really want to have people over, and I preferred small intimate groups over large loud ones. I knew I was easily overwhelmed, and I hated that about myself. I knew I was a clean freak, and impatient. I knew this, but it had never really been a problem. Until now.
If I was ever overwhelmed in Mac, I was drowning in my anxiety now. Literally, there were times where I felt like I was being yanked at break neck speed, through a pool, and water was rushing into my nose, choking me, I was gasping and flailing and trying to breath, but whoever was pulling that rope attached to my life, wasn't slowing down...and I couldn't catch my breath long enough to scream STOP! I CAN'T KEEP UP AND I'M DROWNING!
I was overwhelmed. I remember the first month we were there, John went back home for the annual harvester's homecoming. I didn't go because it would've been a nine hour drive there, for one day of services, only to drive nine hours right back. And with two toddlers that would've been awful. And to be honest, sometimes I look forward to those weeks or days where John leaves, I miss him, but its nice to have the days stretch out and for me to be the only person who's aware of my home (you know what I mean haha) and so I wasn't worried about him leaving so soon.
But that first night, the girls tucked away in bed and me in my room watching little Reagan hiccup and twirl in my hit me. The ONLY other person I know in this entire town, has left. I could go anywhere, any store, any restaurant, and not a single person would even recognize my face. If I suddenly went into labor, or if any of my children got hurt, there was not a soul I could trust, or even name, who would be able to come help me. I was so completely alone. And for some reason, I just wanted my mom. It was so base, such an obvious reversion back to what was comfortable for me. But I remember thinking of how consistent she made life feel and I remember suddenly feeling like all the breath had left my lungs, and I sat up and went and stared out my window into the dark of the town I was so unfamiliar with. I remember watching the branches sway, and the street light change from green to red, hearing the freeway and its constant chatter of engines, staring at the different cars coming and going out and in of our apartment complex...and suddenly there were tears. I remember sitting on the edge of my bed and heaving these great choking sobs. I never cry. never. I always wish I could when I'm feeling strong emotions, but it's always been such a hard thing for me to just be vulnerable with my emotions...but now I couldn't stop. I remember trying to not wake the little monsters asleep just across the living room...but I couldn't calm down...I have never cried so painfully.
It was hitting me. This move was quickly losing its adventurous, spontaneous appeal. The reality of what I had just engaged my life in, was pressing down on my heart, filling my mind with doubt, making my thoughts whirl with so much emotion and the possibility of failure and regret. And I remember crying out to God, "please make this just go away, I just want to go home. please make it possible for us to go home!"
And as I sat there that night, as I waited for the peace of God...a still small voice spoke something to me. Something that has stayed with me, carried me when I was afraid, and carries me still.
That night, when I wanted so badly to return to McMinnville, my home. The voice of God spoke to me.

"McMinnville is not your home. Chico is not your home. There is not a town on this Earth that is your home. You are a sojourner, a pilgrim. And you will never be home until the cares of this world pass away and all things become new. Stop looking back towards McMinnville as your home and resting place. It is not. You are simply not home yet."

I am not home yet.