Tuesday, November 25, 2014


I don't want my kids to get anything for Christmas. No, this isn't the Bah Humbug of blog posts. Let me clarify: I don't want my kids to get any things for Christmas. As their rooms can attest, they have too much stuff. Too much to keep track of. Too much to take proper care of. They simply don't need more stuff.

Now, I'm sure they'd tell you otherwise. Normally I don't particularly care about the amount of stuff they collect, unless I'm tripping over it or it is otherwise causing a hazard. The thing is, some of their stuff has infiltrated the rest of my house. Haley, the baker and soapmaker has supplies in the pantry, kitchen and dining room. There are Magic the Gathering and Pokemon cards everywhere. Legos keep somehow getting loose. I won't even describe to you the jars of internal organs or eyeballs, and all the skulls and bones laying about. 

I've had enough.

It's not the amount of stuff that my kids possess. It's the number of things that possess my kids. 

I used to be the kind of person who held on to everything because it all had sentimental value or I might be able to use it someday. I also had my own idea of "clean" and "organized," which mainly had to do with piles of stuff on the floor. And there were things that took over my world, that I could not have lived without - that possessed me more than I possessed them. It took a lot of time, life experience, and a lot of effort to get past my attachment to things and start letting things go. 

I do not want my kids to continue on the path toward being possessed by possessions. I want them to revel in life, in experiences, in interactions with others, in exploring their world. Perfect gifts for my children would include gift certificates towards time at Camp Calumet Lutheran in Freedom, New Hampshire; museum memberships or tickets (the Connecticut Science Center and Old Sturbridge Village come to mind); movie passes; or simply an invitation to lunch. One child would love blacksmith classes, another horseback riding time. I'd much rather people spend time than money or give experiences rather than stuff. Four out of five of my children agree. I asked. I'm guessing other children would feel the same, given the option. 

Invest time, not money, on children this holiday season. The benefits reaped will be well worth the expense. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

On The Verge

I've spent most of the past six months on the verge of tears nearly twenty-four hours a day. From sheer joy to intense pain, life lately has been tear-inducing.

Have you ever had a moment when you're going about your day and all of a sudden you're just overwhelmed with ... with...with something you just can't put your finger on. You just want to cry and you don't know why. That's been me a lot lately. 

I was ticking things off my to do list: call so and so, organize this, put away that, update this event on facebook, and BAM tears. They stopped me in my tracks. They came after posting an event page for our church's Tuesday Night Sunday School in a facebook group and being met with two simple words "sounds amazing!" in response. It IS amazing. It's beyond amazing. It's family. It's love. It's doing and giving and believing and learning. It's people getting together and sharing something too deep and meaningful for words, even though on the outside it just looks like pizza and lessons and songs and crafts.  I feel so blessed to be able to be a part of that. 

And then I got up to get some things done around the house and hit a wall of pain. I'd fallen earlier, my legs giving out for no apparent reason, and hurt just about every part of my body. Tears from pain, but also from fear streamed down my face. The legs giving out thing is a big deal. A huge deal. A possibly life-changing deal. The what-ifs flood in, a cascade of tears with them. 

Reading through my kids' daily homeschool notebooks, I come across a page on which my child has written things he loves about our family. It melted my heart. All my worry about whether or not the kids take on too much around the house, whether or not they get to go enough places and experience enough things, whether or not my illness is ruining their lives vanished. Tears of relief threatened to dot the page as I read it again and again. 

And then another...

Pulling myself together, I continued to read the other kids' notebooks, and was propelled back to tears by more amazing, loving words. Especially these....

Some days I don't feel like I live up to those words, but I do my best. My heart is on the verge of bursting with gratitude and love. I thank God every day that life's blessings outweigh the struggles. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Dearest Body

I am writing to you to request that you please stop trying to compete with people more than twice my age.

It would be wonderful if you could get your act together enough for me to go back to walking unassisted, although I do have to say that my canes, crutches, and wheelchair are now fairly stylish thanks to special-ordered canes and decorative duct tape for the rest. But that's beside the point - walking is good. Really. At least some of the time. And not the shuffle around in a Tim Conway Old Man-esque manner. (OK, that reference just made me feel old!)

A medical professional's suggestion of a walker is a little over the top, isn't it? Chasing five or six or a dozen children while shuffling behind a walker would be a sight, I suppose, but not one I'd like to inflict on myself or others.  Especially since I'm imagining that happening with me in a housecoat for some odd reason. I'd much rather be a cane or crutch-waving curmudgeon.

Also, if you could fix my "early warning system," that would be wonderful. If not, I'm not sure what I'll do...Depends.

One last thing- now that we're off Remicade, can you be gentle with our friend the liver? I really don't want to add that overly scary "we need to test you to make sure this med isn't going to kill you" medication to my collection, nor do I want to put an insane amount of prednisone in my body on a daily basis. We don't want to inflict me on others if it comes to that.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Breathe Deeply and Pray

 Sleep circles, taunting my pain-wracked body. All I can do is breathe deeply and pray.

My strong fragile child battles migraine and mood. His mood encourages my anxiety, which is already having a field day due to precarious health and unanswered questions. I breath deeply, coaxing gentle words to the tip of my tongue. I pray for relief for us both.

Reflecting on the day so far, it can't possibly be just past noon. Enough has transpired in one morning to fill the entire day. Words buzz around in my brain as it attempts to get a firm grasp on any of them. An appointment with my rheumatologist produced unexpected news: stopping Remicade, referral to a neurologist, the need for a series of MRIs, possibilities including nerve damage and multiple sclerosis thrown about. Unanswered questions continue to pester me as I breathe deeply to calm my nerves and pray in an attempt to hand my troubles over to God.

Soul soothed after a phone call from a friend, surprise catches me once again. Part one of the MRI I was told would be nearly impossible to get approved is scheduled for three days from now. At 7AM. Forty-five minutes away. Laughter and tears assault me at the same time. How did this happen? Nevermind. I don't care. I'll take it. It's not like I sleep anyway. Breathing deeply to quiet my pounding heart, I utter a prayer of thanks for the diving intervention that was necessary to make this MRI happen this quickly. 

The day isn't done with me yet. Not two hours later, the phone rings again and the second of three needed MRIs is scheduled. I breathe in peace and breathe out stress as a prayer of thanksgiving once again crosses my lips.

A bit later, a young man of perhaps eleven or twelve asks me about my crutches, not remembering seeing me use them before. His words of comfort and support touch my heart and buoy my spirits throughout the evening at Tuesday Night Sunday School. Friends ask how I'm doing, knowing the answer might not be what they want to hear, offering prayers and love to carry me through.  Several times throughout the evening, I breathe deeply in an attempt to hold tears at bay - sometimes because of pain, mostly because of thoughtful, kind people. Silent prayers of gratitude for my wonderful church family fill my thoughts.

Finally in bed, the days events come to rest on my overburdened brain. It occurs to me that on days like today, all you can really do to navigate the highs and the lows is to breathe deeply and pray.