Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My stained-glass masquerade

I try to be strong....I really do. I have so many medical responsibilities with Chunks-a-lot that it takes a huge effort on my part to stay on top of everything. I can't fall behind in my duties with her, the needs are too important. Her emotional needs are equally demanding. She likes to be carried around, on my left hip, cradled softly against her fluffy blanket that goes everywhere she goes. Even when we're at home, she insists on being held, and rounding out at a nice 25 lbs. or so, lugging her around can be physically exhausting. And then there's Talks-a-lot. He is just one of those kids that needs a lot of quality time, one-on-one attention, and he needs my constant conversation. The two of them put together is a full day.
I have always prided myself in "handling" it all, and with a smile on my face at that. But lately I have started feeling the cracks in my painted smile. Things have slowed down a lot lately, life has been pretty normal and sometimes pretty quiet. There's no more constant lab work, blood transfusions, endless inpatient days at the hospital, no, we're just here.....finally back at home. And as life has slowed down, I have had to come face to face with a lot of issues that I have. Being in control is one of them. Somewhere deep down inside I think that if I balance everything beautifully and stay on top of every little whim of life, I will win some sort of prize. Wrong. I only end up losing.
This past week has been so hard for me. Nothing has really changed in my life, Chunks is still doing great and Talks-a-lot is thriving in school and at home, but something still seems amiss. And it's me, I am fighting myself. I can see the danger ahead of me, the darkness that lurks and waits for me as I refuse to seek help from my Savior. See, because I think I have to do this alone, I have to be strong for my children, I have to be the voice of opinion with my husband, and on and on it goes. But it's not me who makes me strong, it's Him. This is why I have started seeing cracks forming in my life, because I can only go for so long without Him and then I will break.
I heard this song the other day by Casting Crowns called, "A Stained-Glass Masquerade". It's about people being fake and hiding behind their smiles when they're really struggling on the inside; and I am disappointed to see myself following this trend. I guess I had myself fooled, I really thought I had it all together. I thought that if I smiled enough, was happy enough, was strong enough, I could simply get through this. But here's the thing, I can't. I am not strong enough to endure this, not for the long haul; maybe for a time, but not forever. Christ desperately wants us to surrender to Him, to walk with Him daily, to cast all our burdens on Him, and yet I still try to carry my own load. I know He is allowing me to break, simply to gain my vulnerability and my submission to Him. And as many times as I have learned this lesson, I constantly have to be taught again. It's like I start wandering away and, like a Shepard with His sheep, He herds me back. I am realizing that strength isn't always defined by our ability to win as much as it is our ability to surrender.
I would be lying if I said that any of this was easy, it's not. The trials we have been through lately have been intense and it feels as though all of Satan's evil army is reigning down on us as a family. But God has allowed it and it's certainly gotten my attention. But the only victory I will find will be through my complete surrender to Jesus Christ. I guess it's like that song says, "It's time to close the curtain on my stained-glass masquerade."

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

My biggest mistake as a mom....

Do you ever notice how much younger siblings pick up from their older counterparts? I am often amazed by how much Chunks-a-lot has learned from her big brother, constantly begging to do everything he does and always trying to copy exactly what he says. Being a boy and almost six, my wonderfully funny Talks-a-lot has a love for talking about anything involving body parts or bodily functions. I will be the first to admit that my initial response is not one of correction and I sometimes even (gasp) giggle and join in. Don't get me wrong, it's all innocent and mild, nothing vulgar or crude. I certainly would never encourage him to talk about the human body in an inappropriate way. So I guess I'm just a weird mom like that and I suppose it could get us in trouble eventually, but it's just like our little thing and....well, frankly, it's funny! But lately I've noticed my tender, girly little Chunks-a-lot saying some very interesting things. Talks-a-lot has caught on to the fact that he can get his Chunky sister to say anything he wants her to and it sounds pretty hilarious coming out of her mouth, so he has taught her some choice phrases. One of them is "heiny crack". The only bad thing about this is that my little girl has no conscience about where and when she chooses to say these wonderful little phrases. So we could be out in Walmart and all of a sudden she'll start yelling, "Heiny crack!!". Yes, I know, that is horrible. And yes I do realize that she is a young "lady" and should never utter any sort of phrase about a private body part, which is why I cover my mouth when I laugh at her so she will not think I am encouraging this behavior. If you are blushing right now or simply horrified that I would find this at all amusing, just listen to this video and tell me that you would not giggle (even just a little bit) if you heard this:

So what's my biggest mistake as a mom? Instead of saying, "No, no", discouraging childish silliness and correcting my children's never ending desire to say ridiculous things, sometimes I just laugh!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A step towards faith

Sometimes I wonder if I will ever be able to stop worrying about my little Chunk. She's got some awful stomach bug right now and she is so miserable and sick. I suppose it is normal for things like this to happen to toddlers, but it is incredibly hard for me to watch her suffer after what she's already been through. She was constantly grabbing her stomach today and telling me, "Ouch, mommy", and it was almost more than I could handle. Her appetite is almost non-existent and her not eating is not okay with me. I actually spent 80% of my day fixing food for her to eat, most of it ended up in the trash...untouched. There's this weird part of me that is terrified that she will never eat again. I find so much joy in her rolls of precious fat and consider every pound she gains as a blessing. I couldn't stand to watch her waste away to the tiny, thin and sick little girl that she was just a couple of months ago. So anytime she gets sick, I find myself in this mass hysteria of emotions. And it's times like this where I realize how much I have not given to God. It's like I take what little bit of my fear and worry I can and I lay it at the Cross, the rest I keep hidden somewhere deep down inside. And today I realized how consumed with fear I really am. Fear for her future, fear for her well-being, fear for her life. As much as I go on and on preaching about trusting God, it's interesting to me how much faith I still lack. I know it is normal for a mommy to worry about her little ones, but there is a point where worry crosses over into obsession and I still struggle with that.
I feel like I've been walking on a cloud for the past few months, floating along in this non-emotional existence while things have been happy and "easy". Anytime anything happens that sparks an emotional fire in me, I push it away and refuse to think about it. I called this "giving it to God", but is that really what I'm doing? See, I don't think so. I think I'm stuffing it away and secretly hoping it will disappear if I don't acknowledge it. But when things start to get hard again and the reality of this situation rears its ugly head, I find myself completely overwhelmed with fear. I think that's a pretty good indication of how much I am really trusting God. We say it all the time, "I Believe!", and I always thought I did. Maybe it's just something inspiring that I say because it sounds good, these days I'm not really sure. But God keeps prodding me, pushing me into a deeper understanding of what it truly means to trust Him. It's like He won't let me get away with just thinking I believe in a miracle, He wants me to own it. And as I've unraveled my feelings and my deepest emotions, I've realized something about myself-- I am scared to believe. Not because I don't trust God, not because I don't have faith but simply because I am scared that if I believe, He will take her from me anyways. And losing her is not something that I could ever handle. She is almost like a part of who I am, like she runs through every vein in my body, and my connection with her defies anything I ever thought possible.
So today she is sick again and I feel like I am just beginning to journey down a road that I thought I had already traveled. A road that will teach me to put all of my trust in the God that created my precious little Chunks-a-lot. I don't think the point of believing is having to know whether or not your belief will bring about the ending that you desire, it's more about the complete abandonment of control to God. This is what He desires from us. So today I'll take one step forward into the understanding of what it really means to believe in a miracle for my little girl, knowing that one day, be it on heaven or earth, she will be healed. And that's something worth believing in.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The "chunks" in Chunks-a-lot

I just realized something little Chunks-a-lot is just that---a little CHUNK! When we were at St. Jude's, her constant chemotherapy treatments caused her to stay very sick and lose a bit of weight. It was a daily chore just to get her to take a few bites of food and her weight was something we worried about constantly. We would cheer for her anytime she seemed interested in food and would go out of the way to get her whatever type of food she wanted. Even though those days are over now, that part of me has still not turned off. I still spend most of my days fixing meal after meal for Chunks, constantly offering her snacks and juice, from the minute I wake up till the second she goes to sleep. My husband, Lips, is often humored (and sometimes frustrated) with my valiant efforts. I have heard from him, more than a hundred times, that she is beyond healthy when it comes to her weight. I guess I've never realized how big she's getting until today. She has started experimenting with the potty, which is exciting, and asked me to help her climb on top of her little girl potty today for some "practice". I took her pants and diaper off and watched as she sat on her pretty pink portable potty, knowing nothing was actually going on "potty-wise", but excited just the same. When she was "all done", she got up half-naked and walked to the other side of the room. What I saw in that moment as she stood before me was shocking. For here was this amazing, precious little girl completely covered in chunky rolls and dimples! She was pudgy, squishy even, and her little tummy was so big and round. I realized for the first time since we've gotten back home that she is chunky again! I suppose she's been chunky for awhile, I've just never noticed it until now. And as much as I would love to say that I will stop worrying about how much she eats, when she eats, or what she eats, I know it won't be that easy. I carry this picture of her in my mind of how she used to look and it scares me. This is what I remember from those horrible days:

That picture haunts me and is a constant reminder of how sick she really was. So as chunky as she might be, I'll still rejoice every time she willingly takes a bite of food, every morning she eats 4 waffles in just under 45 minutes, every time she finds joy in eating food. And maybe my husband is right, maybe she will become a roly-poly chunk, but I count every ounce of her as an answer to prayer. It's just nice to see her finally live up to her name. She definitely puts the "chunks" in Chunks-a-lot!