Health Fly-Over…One More Lap

It has been a long time since I have given any kind of real public update regarding my health.  I try not to spend a lot of time talking about it, thinking about it, or writing about it because I find that dwelling on my problems is not that helpful for me most of the time.  I know some people find it therapeutic, and sometimes I do too, but I mostly find that it makes me feel worse.  But, I figured I would give a quick flyover of all that’s been going on the last year or so.

Many of you know that I visited Mayo Clinic last year in Rochester, MN.  Mayo Clinic was amazing and they gave me a lot of hope about the possibility that this disease  (Scleroderma/Systemic Sclerosis) could potentially have been a temporary blip on my radar due to other issues.  Since then I have continued to have symptoms such as Raynaud’s Disease (my fingers turn white when they’re cold and go completely numb.  Not just pale, but where my fingers look like they belong to a dead body.  It’s gross), digestive problems, as well as some newer ones such as dizziness, lightheadedness, and migraines.  Thankfully the two rheumatologists I saw out here confirmed to me that a lot of their Scleroderma/Systemic Sclerosis patients suffer from digestive problems because it is a connective tissue disease and can impact any connective tissue in the body.  Yay!  Unfortunately there just is not a whole lot that can be done about it.  They believe that my lack of skin involvement is probably because I’m in an earlier stage of the disease.  Most people are not tested for Scleroderma until they present with skin issues.  But many of the patients suffer from other complaints for years not knowing what is wrong with them.  My chance Scleroderma blood test showed it in my system and now we are (hopefully) keeping it at bay with the standard auto-immune treatments.

Last year in October I had a weekend when I felt so sick to my stomach that I decided to make some dietary changes.  I stopped eating gluten, limited my dairy intake, and then paid attention to what I ate more to figure out different foods that triggered a response from my system.  So far I’ve learned that heavy foods are a big challenge, most processed foods/sugars, ice cream is a food I will probably never eat again, zucchini makes me miserable and so do potatoes.  Caffeine is also not my friend so I limit that as well.

Around New Year’s I was having a lot of problems taking my stomach medication.  It was doing its job too well and I started to go off of the prescription.  I was able to go off of it completely which was a huge turn for me!  This was a pill I had been taking 5 times a day just to function like a normal human being!  I stayed off of it and had minimal symptoms for about 5 months.  I thought that maybe I had made enough changes to my lifestyle that I had everything under control.

In May my symptoms came back with a vengeance.  Whether it was from stress or what, I don’t know, but I knew that this flare up was going to be miserable.  I spent most of my summer trying to function through horrible migraines which are new for me.  I was at a point when I was taking Excedrine Migraine every day for several weeks in a row and it was barely taking the edge off.  It also doesn’t mix well with my stomach medication that I had to start taking again in order to make it through the day.  Most of the time I felt like I was in a fog…a dreamlike state.  I couldn’t think clearly and felt really irritable.  Simple questions and conversations were really challenging.  I felt so completely discouraged.  The best way to explain it would be to say that it’s like being a drunk person who is trying to sound sober.

The whole summer was pretty much like that and now I feel like I am mostly managing my symptoms.  I still feel crappy a lot of the time, but my medication does help to take the edge off, so that’s a good thing.  I often feel lightheaded and dizzy, experience a solid amount of joint pain (but no swelling), abdominal pain, extreme fatigue and headaches.

I am learning that I have limitations to what I can do and that has been really difficult.  The chances of ever having my own classroom seems so far out of my reach at this point.  I don’t know how I would be able to function if I couldn’t lay down at the drop of a hat.  Just last week I was in a classroom and the students left for lunch and I felt like I was going to fall asleep.  It wasn’t just a little tired.  I felt like there were 100 lb weights on my eyes and as if someone had just given me some Vicodin.  My brain was so foggy I felt like I could hardly think.  My words weren’t slurred by I had to work really hard to form sentences.  I told Josh that the aide in the classroom probably thought I was on drugs.  So letting go of the dream of being a full-time teacher is something that I’m working through right now.

I’ve also had to make a lot of either/or decisions and I really don’t like to plan to do anything fun ever.  I have to think of what I am going to do carefully so I don’t run out of energy all in one moment.  I need to know that I have a day of rest coming up and plan my evenings/weekends accordingly to make sure I have time to recover.  I know that sounds really strange, but I feel like it is just easier for me to be at home and to go do something fun if I am feeling up for it at a random time.  I was talking to my mother-in-law about this problem of not ever wanting to do anything but be at home and have close friends over for a relaxing game night or something.  I just don’t want or need any additional excitement in my life and it feels like I must be a really boring person.  She was super encouraging to me and reminded me that Josh is a much more introverted, mellow person who enjoys spending most days at home or doing something relaxing.  He has never been the one with the need to be busy.  She said that, for him, this is probably more his pace than it was when I was trying to plan something all the time.  I hadn’t thought about that and it has helped me to feel a little less guilty about my exhaustion and stress levels.

I have my good days and my bad days.  My good days are probably how a normal person feels when they have eaten something that just didn’t settle well and has a sinus headache on top of it.  I can function and do things that are fun in moderation. I have found that the Spoon Theory is incredibly accurate and do a lot of borrowing.

On my bad days I am a total wreck.  I don’t feel like myself at all.  I feel like the world is crashing in around me and that it’s never going to get better.  I can’t think.  I feel really irritable.  I’m in pain.  Just getting out of bed takes me at least a half hour.  Showering uses up every ounce of energy I have…so I don’t.  I feel confused.  I can’t even remember what it feels like to feel good…to feel normal.  I feel completely hopeless and bury my face in a pillow and cry…super ugly cry.  I think that death would be so much better and all the pills I have laying around are really tempting.  I thank God for the hope He brings and clarity that the Holy Spirit offers in those moments that death is not the answer.  It’s interesting because I know that so many people view suicide as a horribly selfish act and I understand what they are saying.  I really do.  But when you’re on the other side and feeling like you want to die it doesn’t feel that way at all.  It feels like living one more day in this body prison would be impossible and you have to force yourself to believe that this is today…not tomorrow…not 40 years from now.  For me, one of the things I keep in mind is that I don’t want my kids growing up wondering if it was their fault.  I don’t want them to grow up being angry with God because their mom left them.  I’ve also known friends who have attempted suicide and know that it is not the answer.  It doesn’t solve anything.  It just creates more problems.  So I do keep those things in mind.  So please don’t go calling the police, the doctor, or my parents to warn them that I’m suicidal.  This is on my worst days.  I do believe that this emotional response is very much linked to the disease itself.  Depression and anxiety is very common among auto-immune sufferers and this is just one of those symptoms that I have from time to time.  More often than I’d like.

Another question that has come up recently is whether or not auto-immune/chronic illness can really change a person’s personality.  Can it turn an extrovert into an introvert? Can it turn an outdoor lover into a homebody?  Yes and No.  I feel a lot less extroverted these days than I used to feel.  Going places never really bothered me before, but now I feel more anxious when I’m around a group of people I don’t know or when I’m in a place I’ve never been.  I feel trapped.  I need to know where the nearest bathroom is.  Where is the nearest source of water?  Where is the nearest source of food?  How far away from my car will I be?  What if I start to feel really sick?  What if I get too hot or too cold?  I prefer to be near my home.  I want an easy escape plan.  I want a bathroom that is far away from the action so I can go in there and be by myself and get it together.  I want to be able to sit down, close my eyes, and breathe if I need to.  I don’t look sick so I often feel like people won’t understand.  That they will think it’s all in my head.  So am I now an introvert?  I think I’m an extrovert trapped inside a body that hates spontaneity and fun.  How can I tell that I’m not a true introvert?  Because I wish I could go and do all of those things.  It’s not that being around people doesn’t sound fun.  It’s that all of my symptoms get in the way.  How can I carry on a conversation when I feel like I’m going to throw up if I say another word?  How can I talk to someone when I feel like I can’t even think clearly?  How can I go hiking and traveling when I feel like I’m going to faint?  My body jut prevents me from being who I am on the inside.

I admit that I have a lot more thoughts about other people and their health.  For example, my mother-in-law was telling me about an amazing teacher who has this incredible classroom and I said something about how great it would be to get to be in that class someday.  She said that he never takes a day off.  I said, “He must be healthy.  I hate him.”  I don’t really hate him, of course.  I don’t really hate healthy people.  It is just honestly really difficult to watch other people do things that you used to be able to do and can’t do anymore.  That sounds so petty.  I know.  It’s something I’m working on.  Like I’ve even gotten annoyed at television/film characters (even cartoon ones…) because they feel good all the time.  That’s when I’m having a bad day.  The only people I want to see healthy all the time on TV are Jessica Fletcher and Ben Matlock.

So there you have it.  The good, bad, and ugly.  I hold out hope that I will have another great season.  Life will be filled, no doubt, with good months and bad months and I look forward to the good ones again.  I also hope that they’re super awesome around Thanksgiving and Christmas because those are my favorite.  Right now I have been spending time subbing and with my kids and I find that having a schedule and distraction is really helpful.  The more time I spend just dwelling on how awful I feel the worse it is.  It doesn’t mean that my symptoms go away, but having things to do even around the house helps to keep me going.  It’s motivating.  It reminds me of when I was in college and I would run 6 miles around an indoor 1/8 mile track.  That’s a lot of laps.  I would hit a point when I felt like I couldn’t run any further and I would tell myself, “just one more lap.”  I would do this for probably 16 laps.  “Just one more.  Just one more.”  And I always did “just one more” lap.  When I have my kids and work I think, “Just get to lunch.  Just one more diaper.  Just one more hour.”  I find things to do during those times like pick up a book with the kids, work on a coloring project, or some other activity that doesn’t require a lot of physical exertion and we get through.  My days are often filled with “just one more lap” moments and I pray that God gives me the energy to keep running.

The Gray House

I grew up in a 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath, 2-story house.  The siding was gray with a black roof, and black shutters.  It had an interesting exterior in that there were two front doors.  Solicitors always thought that it was a duplex and would start at one front door and then would go on to the next, always surprised to see the same person answer.  The house had no central air conditioning, no dishwasher, no dining room, and no garage.  Our gray house was situated on a large corner lot with a U-shaped gravel driveway that connected our house to both of the streets that intersected in front of it. There were large trees in the yard including a really beautiful lilac bush that my dad had to take down when it got sick.  I remember being so sad on that day.

Each season in that home comes with its own special memories.  I remember hot summers that never seemed to end.  The sounds of cicadas calling out to one another would fill the air.  We would play catch in front of the house, go on bike rides, walk to the Mill Pond to swim, or go out to Jacobson’s farm and fish off the dock.  Our neighborhood was active with lots of kids so sometimes we all got to go to the neighbor’s house to swim.  I remember not making it on time to go to the bathroom in the house when I was probably 4 and, not wanting to miss out on swimming, I went back to the pool and jumped in.  Unfortunately, I didn’t just have to go #1.  The pool had to be cleared out and cleaned out.  We would all run around on the grass in the evening and chase fireflies.  The days seemed long and I remember laying in my bed in my hot, stuffy room, and looking out the window as the sun was just beginning to set

Fall was always a special time of the year because it meant school was starting and my birthday was approaching.  Our house sat conveniently in between 3 bus stops: one block to the east, one block to the west, or one block to the south.  So if we were ever late for the first one, we could always make it to the last one!  Apple Fest would come each fall and we would drive out to Jacobson’s farm and get caramel apples, pick out pumpkins, and walk through the apple orchard.  The streets in our neighborhood would become decorated with red and gold crispy autumn leaves.  We would rake our leaves into giant piles and jump into them for as long as our parents and the neighbors would let us.  After a while they would light the leaves on fire.  The smell of burning leaves in the fall is still a homey and comforting smell.  By the time Halloween rolled around it could either feel like summer or winter.  I recall dressing up and walking around in rain and wind, or in a nice warm afternoon.  Each year was something different.  Our neighborhood was a safe, family neighborhood with lots of little ghosts, kittens, angels, and super heroes running around looking for candy.

Winter has some of my best memories.  It was always cold and snowy so we would dress in our warmest snowsuits, jackets, ski gloves, boots, and hats and go out to brave the freezing temperatures.  Our bus stop would be covered in piles of snow so we would turn them into slides.  Ever child from 5 to 12 hopped on top of the ice and would go zooming down.  It felt like it was 100 feet high as a child.  The sidewalks were slippery and cold.  We would put little Christmas decorations up in the house.  We had little stuffed doorknob holders and a sign that said “Beary Christmas.”  Our ornaments were all kinds of various Keepsakes and filled the tree beautifully.  My dad was always the one to put the lights on the tree because he was the best at it.  I don’t know if he chose or who did, but I remember having blue lights on the tree.   On Christmas morning we would wake up and open gifts around the tree and then head off to grandma and grandpa’s for the rest of the day.  I remember coming home after a long and fulfilling day and looking up at the street light as I watched the snow float down from the sky.  The most magical day of the year would have come to an end and I would wish it would start all over.

In the Spring I remember Easter.  My brother and I enjoyed looking for Easter eggs and our Easter baskets.  We have a video of our hunt one year in the house.  I had found my brother’s green Easter basket and he had found my pink one.  I was pretty small so he showed me how the pink one had grass in it.  I was mesmerized and gladly gave up the green basket even though it too had grass.  We would go out to my grandparents’ farm and hunt for more eggs, eat ham and potatoes, wear ourselves out with our cousins, and come back home.  The days were breezy and cool and I remember driving up to the school yard to try to fly a kite.  I think I spent most of my time playing on the playground and less time with the kite since I didn’t really get to hold it anyway.  Spring also brought in some incredible storms.  There were days when the sky would be as black as night and tornado sirens would go off.  Sometimes it felt like it would rain for days on end and I would sit and stare out our living room window and wonder when summer would come back.

How appropriate that the house is gray.  It has some really beautiful and wonderful memories for me, and some really awful ones too.  I have felt such an attachment to that house and I could not seem to pinpoint why…until today.  This home is the place where everything began, and where everything fell apart.  This is the home of the wonderful memories you’ve already read.  And it is also the home of the separation of my parents.  It is the only home where I have memories, pictures, and videos of them together.  It is the home where my mom and dad worked in tandem and planned to raise my brother and me.  It is the home they selected together when they had a plan.  It is the home where they placed their hard earned money!  Their very first single-family home.  And then, when I was 6, it wasn’t theirs anymore.

My mom got remarried and we had a new family move in with us.  I had two step-brothers and a step-sister with whom I have 8 years worth of memories.  Memories of playing Super Mario Bros. in the living room while listening to Styx and Garth Brooks, playing catch with a football in the front yard, catching toads and getting muddy.  Memories just like the ones above, but more.  More presents, more kids, more winters more summers.  It is the home where I learned to play the French Horn and the flute.  It is the home of a surprise 13th birthday party, sleepovers, and playing in mom’s makeup.  Lots of laughs and probably even more tears.  It is the home where I was first exposed to horror films that destroyed my sleep until I was 25-years old.  It is the home where I lived when I locked myself in my room writing poem after poem when my best friend died.  It’s the home of fights that I won’t even bother detailing and hurts that are not worth speaking of.  It’s the home where I stood in the kitchen with a knife wanting to end everything, but chose to go on anyway.  It holds in it a time filled with anger, depression, and fear.

I remember when I found out that we would no longer be living in that house anymore.  I knew the marriage had to end.  I was not against it ending for so many reasons that I won’t go into.  But I didn’t understand why we didn’t get to keep this house.  This was my mom’s house…my dad’s house…mine and my brother’s house.  And as quickly as we found out is when we left.  Suddenly we were gone and I was never going to go back again.  The only home I had ever remembered had slipped from my fingers as we drove away.

Each year I feel like I go through a new season where God allows an area of injury to surface so I can open it up, clean it out, and begin the process of healing.  Never would I have anticipated that out of all the times I’ve gone through this cycle that I would shed tears over a house.  I remember dating a guy who was adamant that he wanted to buy his parents’ house someday and I could never figure out why.  The house, to me, wasn’t anything special or significant.  But to him it was significant because it had all of his memories.  Now I know that my house represents so much more.  It is the only tie I have to two distinct areas of my life that I will never have again.

Recently Emery asked me about my parents and why I have a step-dad, step-mom, and why my parents aren’t together.  I figured these questions would come someday, but I think I was just hoping that they wouldn’t wonder since it’s the only thing they’ve ever known.  When I tell my kids stories about growing up and playing with my siblings, they will have no clue what I’m talking about because they only know uncle Ryan.  There is a large chunk of my life that will be completely missing from the story.  But those 14 years in that house and 8 years with another family greatly shaped who I am.  And I will never be able to truly share it with them.

So now I begin this healing process.  Over the last few days I’ve imagined myself walking through the house and remembering each window, door, step…even the wicker hamper at the top of the steps.  I have imagined the lighting and the air.  I’ve walked into the kitchen and even grabbed the candy TUMS that were always kept in the cupboard up and to the left of the sink.  I’ve walked through the basement and around the yard and have tried to say “goodbye” to all of the emotions tied to the memories, good and bad, so they become simply memories instead of feelings of sadness and anger.  But a wonderful woman once told me that it’s a long distance from your head to your heart.



Forgiveness.  It’s a word tossed around in Christian circles left and right.  We usually speak about forgiveness in terms of our relationship with God.  “Forgive us our trespasses…” “I’m not perfect.  Just forgiven.”  We know that, in a general sense, we all are messed up and need to be forgiven from time to time for things we do that aren’t very nice.

Teaching children about forgiveness can be quite the challenge.  We often don’t model asking for forgiveness very well or offering it when someone apologizes.  I think forgiveness is hard to extend because we have learned to equate it with “it’s OK.” How many times do you hear, “I’m sorry.”  “It’s OK.”?????  But sometimes it’s not OK.  Sometimes the hurt that has been inflicted is so deep and so painful that it is impossible to say, “It’s OK.”  That’s why we’ve tried teaching our kids to say, “I forgive you.”

We are trying to teach our children that forgiveness is not saying that what the person did to you was no big deal.  Instead, it’s saying, “I’m not going to hold this over your head.  I’m not going to drag your name through the mud.  I’m not going to bring it up to you all the time.  I’m releasing you and I’m releasing myself from the grip of the hurt.  There may still be consequences.  There may not be.  But I am choosing to wish the best for you regardless of what you’ve done to me.”

Every single day we have issues in our house with behavior and forgiveness.  The boys get sassy and rude.  They hit, kick, and push.  Someone always ends up in tears.  And it is really frustrating.  Just tonight Middle Man was really sassy when we finished playing a game together as a family.  He wanted to play another but we said it was time to go to bed.  His response was to scream and kick me.  We have been trying hard to teach him for the last four years that kicking and screaming is not the best way to get what you want, but it is a sure way to get yourself in a bit of trouble.  He ended up in his bed in tears.  As I was getting ready for bed I heard him calling my name.  I finally walked back into the bedroom and sat down at his bed and we had a conversation about what happened and I asked him to apologize.  We hugged and kissed, cuddled, and sang a song.  We ended our evening on a happy, loving note.  But it isn’t always that easy.  There are days when I want to ignore his crying for me.  There are days when I want to really drill it in that his behavior isn’t acceptable…that he has pushed the limits for the last time. (he is my sassiest one, after all…).  There are days when I want to slam the door with all the lights off and just walk away.

But then I think about God.  God has never left me to scream and cry on my own when I’m reaping the consequences of my own wrongdoing.  He doesn’t say, “It’s OK.”  He says, “I forgive you.”  If I robbed a bank tomorrow I wouldn’t be let off the hook even if I sincerely apologized.  I’d still end up with jail time.  Negative consequences are always eventually a natural result of negative behavior.  And it’s important to recognize the wrong and change it…just like we ask our kids to.  But it’s just as important to model forgiveness.  I want my kids to know that, no matter what wrong they’ve done, I am still their mother.  I love them unconditionally.  There won’t be a time when I will say, “You’ve worn me out.  I will begin to withhold my love from you from this moment forward because of what you’ve done.”  I want them to know that my arms are always available.  My hugs and kisses are always going to be there for them even when they’re having to deal with the consequences of their behavior.  My love for them will not run out just like God’s love for us has not run out.

Earlier today I was surrounded by ten rowdy two-year olds.  I don’t know if someone was sneaking espresso into their sippy cups, but they were all pretty much bouncing off the walls all morning.  It was a lot of fun to play with them, but as most people can imagine, ten rowdy two-year olds can get out of hand pretty quickly.  Finally it came to a head when one sweet baby came up to me and grabbed my leg as I was trying to help another child with her craft.  This sweet guy was really trying to get my attention and, “Just a second” wasn’t working.  In his excitement he bit my leg really hard.  I mean hard.  Like, broke the skin slightly and left a welt through my jeans hard.  It took a second for me to process what was happening and as I began to feel this horrible stinging sensation I let out a loud, “OWOWOWOWOWOW!”  The room went from being at volume 10 to volume 2.  My eyes began to fill up with water and I looked at the sweet guy who immediately knew what he had done.  I said very calmly trying not to think about how much my leg hurt, “Biting is not OK.  I need you to go sit down over there for a time out.”  His sweet little eyes began to water.  I finished helping the little girl with her project and came back to him, knelt down and asked, “do you know why you’re in a time out?”  He nodded, “because I bited.”  “Yeah.  And biting really really hurts people.  That really hurt me.  Biting is wrong and we are not supposed to do that to our friends, are we?”  He shook his head.  I asked, “What do you think you should say right now?”  He looked at me, eyes filled with little tears, “I’m sorry.”  I looked back at his sweet face, “I forgive you buddy.”  Then we gave a big hug and went on with the rest of our morning as usual.

I could have just ignored the bite and pretended like it didn’t happen, but he would not have learned that there are consequences to that behavior.  I could have said, “it’s OK.  I should have given you my attention immediately when you asked for it because, if I had, you wouldn’t have bitten me.”  Alternately, I could have screamed at him and punished him for the rest of the morning and said, “No. You don’t get to do that because you bit me.”  I could have withheld every good thing from him like snacks and the swings outside.  I could have tattled on him to all the adults and passed the word around that he’s a biter so everyone had better watch out.  I could have withheld my affection from him for the rest of the day…heck, for the rest of our lives.  He hurt me.  But would either of those things have been helpful?

I remember talking to someone about seven years ago who was sharing with me some painful memories of his father from their past.  The son grew up in a home with an alcoholic father.  He was mean and cruel to the children and to his mother.  When the son was in college the father was finally about to lose everything he cared about. This forced him to get his act together.  He went to A.A. and turned his life around.  He helped others in the AA program and became a completely different person.  Loving.  Kind.  But the son struggled with forgiving his father because he had 18 years worth of horrible memories.  He didn’t understand how his mother could stay with him…he didn’t deserve it.  While I couldn’t speak to the pain he felt as the son, I considered the feelings of the father.  He knew he had screwed up and sought reconciliation with all those he had hurt.  You can never take back the words you’ve spoken or the physical pain you’ve caused someone.  But you can ask for forgiveness and change your life.  The knowledge of the hurt you’ve caused toward others can eat you alive.  My response was, “What motivation does someone have to turn his life around if he knows that everyone he loves will push him away?”  The hope of forgiveness can be a strong motivator for those who live with guilt.  Which is all of us at one point or another, right?

This idea of forgiveness has been going around in my brain for the last week or two. I realized that I have held onto things that have deeply hurt me for far too long.  I’ve said I’ve forgiven, but I haven’t really.  How do I know?  Because I will still find words coming out of my mouth that repeat the wrong someone has done to me.  Because I will hear the words come out of my mouth, “Well, just wait until he/she ends up in my shoes…”  Instead of extending my forgiveness in my heart, I will pay lip service.  I want to sound like I’m playing nice and fair, but in reality I hold onto those hurts and I pull them out when it is most convenient for me.  I hold it over the “trespasser’s” head and say, “Well, you did…”  Even if not in those words.  I’ve allowed myself to dwell on and repeat to others constantly the hurt that has weighed me down for so many years.  Sometimes I even think to myself,  “Why am I telling them this????” as the words continue to flow from my mouth.  This is not OK.  This is not forgiveness.  How would I feel if I found out that someone whom I’ve hurt in the past was still telling others about what I did to them?  How would I feel if I knew that others were telling stories about me with the intended purpose of making me look bad and making themselves look good…or like a martyr?

Forgiveness is a lot easier to offer when we realize how much we have been forgiven.  Just this week I had to ask God for forgiveness for my unforgiving spirit.  As I was praying with Josh in the evening I asked God to reveal anything in me that was keeping me from Him and the words just came flowing out of my mouth: Please forgive me for holding onto these hurts…for choosing to have petty arguments and silly fights instead of choosing to be at peace…  Unforgiveness can cause more damage than we could ever imagine.  This is something I’m working on…something I will probably always need to work on.  There may be days when an old hurt will come back in my mind and I will have to dismiss that thought and say, “No.  That’s over.  That was in the past.  I have dealt with and moved on from that hurt.  I have done what I am able, in my power, to do about that.  It is finished.”

Maybe you’re like me.  Maybe you need to spend some time in prayer asking God, “Who do I need to forgive?  Who have I been treating differently because I’ve held onto this hurt?  Who have I hurt?  Who do I need to ask to forgive me?”  Maybe you need to call someone or send an email asking for forgiveness.  Maybe that’s a road you can’t safely walk down so you need to just acknowledge it in your heart between you and God.  What I know is that the moment I realized this sin in my life I felt a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders.  I felt like I could breathe more deeply and rest more soundly. The weight of unforgiveness can make you sick…literally and figuratively.   Today I am thankful for forgiveness.

See Y’all Real Soon

Just over one year ago we moved to a small town in North Carolina.  We had never even visited and came knowing 2 souls.  Our plan was to stay here for a little while and eventually migrate to a larger city like Greenville, Charlotte, or Asheville.  We arrived during a hot, humid August.  I had forgotten what humidity felt like.  I had forgotten what it was like to get a little rain almost every day.  I had forgotten the havoc a teeny tiny little blood sucking bug can wreak on your body.  We came full of hope, wonder, and anticipation.  We came with dreams of making our own path.  What would God have in store for us?

When we learned that we would be moving to North Carolina we prayed for our future church and friends.  We prayed that God would place people in our lives whose hearts were prepared to make new friends.  We prayed that God would lead us to a church where He was the focus and where we could be welcomed into the ministry.  I was hoping for a smaller, intimate church with maybe only a hundred or two people where it would be easy to get connected.  But I prayed, above that, that God would lead us where HE wanted us and that He would help me to not be so focused on finding a copy of what we had before.

It took just two Sundays to find our church home.  The church was in a transitional phase and we weren’t really sure what was coming up next, but we were both convinced that this was the place God intended for us.  These were our friends.  This was our church family.  We quickly joined a Sunday school class and Wednesday night Bible Study.  After a couple months I joined the choir and experienced such joy sitting down to read music again…to sing in a Christmas worship concert again.  The men and women I met were so loving and so kind.  Due to many health issues and expenses, we were on a tight budget for Christmas and a new friend purchased an amazing gift for my boys that I could never repay, Levi’s preschool offered us a scholarship so he could attend 5 days a week.  Friends, family, and teachers brought food, prayed for us, and really invested in us with their time, talents, and love.  They even provided extra work opportunities for Josh and his graphic design.  I began to babysit and fell in love with the children.  The church also offered me a position working in the nursery for Mom’s Morning Out and Sunday morning child care.  Every time we turned around God was opening doors and showing us the generosity of His people.

Two weeks ago we found out that we will be moving back to Southern California.  This news was met with both excitement and sadness.  We are so excited to be back with those we love on the West Coast.  We have so many friends and family members to return to.  We know we will be met at church with open arms.  We know that the boys will get to spend time with their aunt, uncle, cousins, and another set of grandparents.  We will be closer to Josh’s work so he can have some face time with his co-workers.  They’re more than co-workers….they are our friends…our family.  It took me so long to make friends in Southern California that the ones I do have are true and deep.  We return with questions of how God will provide for certain needs, but we trust Him because He has always provided for us and has promised to give us what we need.  We are eager to continue the ministries we had been involved in before and return having learned so much and grown to hopefully be able to serve in a new capacity.

But we are sad at the same time.  We have made some amazing friends.  The love I have for these people maybe new, but it is real.  I know that, for many, our time here will have been so fleeting that we may be just a passing memory.  We may or may not have left a lasting or life-changing impact.  We may be the couple that someone says in the future, “Oh…do you remember??”  I, on the other hand, have been changed by the people I’ve met here.  Each and every child in the nursery, every parent, each choir member…  I’ve had the privilege of standing up in front of this group of amazing people and watching them worship God wholly.  I see the smiles on their faces each week…hands that are lifted and voices singing united to the God we all love and adore.  I’ve made some unexpected friendships and have seen some who give their all each and every single week for the glory of Christ.  I have met women who have taken care of babies week after week for two decades.  They have devoted so much of their lives to loving these children.  I’ve watched them shed tears when the babies graduate on to the next classroom.  I’ve listened to them say, “I love this baby so much,” week after week after week.  The smiles on their faces when they welcome these precious children assures me that they’re genuine.  I’ve never seen so many loved children all in one place.  I’ve never seen so many people who were this passionate about a children’s ministry.  I came hoping to make a difference in the lives of those I’ve encountered…and I’m the one leaving filled up.  I leave with a new love and awareness for just how much a child wants to be loved and held…even if it is just for an hour or two in the nursery each week.  I’m leaving with a new passion for the ministry of music.  To blend the traditional with the contemporary…to have people of every age joined together in one song…all hearts lifted up.  I’m leaving with a new sense of sacrifice as I’ve watched others give of themselves endlessly.  I leave having heard a preacher speak the truth full of love and grace…but truth.  I leave having experienced how a church with thousands of attendees can feel like an intimate family.  I leave having made friends who meet you and say, “we should hang out sometime,” and actually follow through with it!  We have met those who would literally give us the clothes off their backs if they thought for one moment that we needed it…who have sacrificed Saturdays and Sundays to help us out.  My family and I have been so well loved and embraced that it is beyond words…and we are so THANKFUL.

We have been asked if we regret moving out here.  No.  We don’t.  Not for one second would we want to give up all those we’ve met and all that we have learned here. It was so worth it.

So, as we embark on this exciting new(ish) journey, we ask for your prayers.  We ask for peace and a smooth transition.  We ask that the boys would adjust well as we return to the place where they had spent most of their lives so far.  We pray that we would return and be able to serve in a new way and that we would be able to love others as well as we have been loved.  We pray for my dad and step-mom as they will, no doubt, experience deep sadness and grief when we leave…again.  We pray that the relationships we have made here would continue on since we have the amazing technology to do so.

There’s no way I can say “Goodbye” to Hendersonville.  So, instead, I’ll see y’all real soon.

Good Enough

This week I was having one of my little sob-fests.  It’s been an emotional week and I decided it was time for me to have a time to cry and get over it.  What was my final trigger?  Disney’s Pirate Fairy.  Yep.  One year ago we bought that movie by accident because I forgot to decline it with our Disney Movie Club membership.  When I opened the package I laughed, “Pirate Fairy???  With three boys??  Yeah…maybe I’ll give it away.”  Well, we ended up watching it and it was really good.  The boys loved it.  I loved it.  We watched it over and over and over and over…

It was early May.  My lemon tree was blooming.  The mornings were cool and crisp.  The air smelled amazing.  We had just begun to discuss moving across the country.  Hope was in the air.  New beginnings were on the horizon.  Life was good.  It was exciting.  And we watched A LOT of the Pirate Fairy.

Fast-forward to this week…

I haven’t slept for days.  I have showered one time in a week.  I can’t drive.  I can’t breathe.  This week…this year has been a real challenge.  Hearing the intro to Pirate Fairy was just more than I could handle.  I began to sob.  Hearing that song transported me to a time before my surgery, before Little Man’s surgeries, before prescriptions, before tests…to a time of hope.  I was packing for our move to that song.  I was playing games with good friends to that movie.  I was making delicious lattes and having coffee with friends to that movie.  I was listening to little boys run in the sprinklers to that movie.  It brings back so many happy memories.

Then it hit me that this was the same issue I had this last Christmas.  Every time I’d hear the music that plays during the DVD menu for Frosty the Snowman and Frosty Returns it would transport me to December of 2010.  I was pregnant with Middle Man.  Big Man had just turned 2.  We had just moved into a great, new apartment that we LOVED and I unpacked while he played with his toys and that movie ran.  Big Man loved Frosty.  Instead of feeling happy, it made me feel a little depressed.

As I began to sob I unloaded 5 1/2 years worth of memories onto Josh.  I cried about how Big Man and I had so much one-on-one time.  I remembered how we would sit down at the pool at our first apartment in Riverside…just the two of us.  He was only Little Man’s age and his legs are just the same!  I remembered really fun times playing Nintendo with good friends in one of our apartments.  I dumped out all of the wonderful memories of our home in Rancho.  Our lemon tree, friends we made, church, game nights, Bible Study, nightly neighborhood walks.  And NO DISEASE!

One particular memory I had was that of two close friends of ours.  I remember the first time I saw them.  “They were, like, the ‘cool kids,'” I sobbed to Josh, “I mean, they led a Bible Study!  I didn’t think they’d want to be our friends.  They were so good at everything and knew everyone.  But they became our friends!  They will never know how thankful I am that they became our friends!”  I just kept crying…and then I started laughing at how ridiculous that sounded.  Now that I’ve been friends with them for a few years I know that they’re not “too cool” for anyone.  They’re some of the most kind and welcoming people I’ve ever met and I’ve enjoyed our friendship so much!

All of this led me to a great realization.  I have been living the grand majority of my life feeling like I’m not “good enough.”  I don’t mean in some spiritual way…but in a tangible way.  I’m not smart enough, talented enough, pretty enough, funny enough… I’m not enough.  If I’ve ever come across as confident then I must be good at one thing: pretending.  Inside, I am terrified.

I’m terrified of being judged.  I’m terrified of not being liked.  I’m afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing and accidentally hurting someone’s feelings.  I’m afraid of getting in trouble.  When I get a phone call or text from my boss, I’m afraid I’m going to be fired.  I’m afraid of screwing up my kids.  I’m afraid that I’m going to disappoint my family.  I’m so afraid.  I’m afraid that I will let everyone down.

In school I knew I wasn’t as good as everyone else.  I wasn’t the best athlete, musician, student… I wasn’t as smart as my classmates.  I felt like an idiot all the time.  I wanted to have fun and to be silly, but I felt like everyone thought I was a total airhead.  I was just easily excited!  So at some point, I stopped.  I thought I needed to be smarter…calmer…more thoughtful.  Then in college I felt like I didn’t know who I was.  I wanted to fit in.  I watched the “cool kids” and saw only differences between them and myself.  They were funnier.  They were better looking.  They were more confident.  They knew all the right things to say.  I mean, they even took pretty “ugly” pictures.  I cannot do that.  I told myself that I wasn’t good enough to fit in.  I needed to either change, or just accept that I wasn’t going to fit.  I eventually found friends that I blended well with.  I felt loved, accepted, and encouraged.  We were all flawed.  It was amazing.  But it was only with them.  If I met new people, I retreat into myself.

Then I moved across the country…twice.  “I’m not good enough to be her friend.  I have absolutely nothing to offer.  She will spend time with me and I will bore her.  She will think I’m stupid…or a know-it-all…or we just won’t click.  I’m going to talk too much…or not enough…or just say the wrong thing.”   Looking back I probably appeared stand-offish to other people…but it wasn’t because I was stuck up or snobby…but because I was afraid of not being accepted.

That’s the sticking point.

I have been so afraid that I may be pushing other people away.  I have been so afraid of being not good enough, that I haven’t befriended the person who maybe needed someone the most.  I’ve been so scared of being rejected, talked about behind my back, disliked, and unwanted that I have probably made others feel exactly what I was afraid of feeling.  (How could you be so stupid?!  Is what naturally goes through my brain at that moment…)

In some ways it has been helpful to me.  I remember being a freshman in high school and there was one senior guy in particular who would harass me during my gym class.  I’m sure he did it to a lot of girls.  When he asked me to come to his house for lunch sometime I laughed.  Yeah right.  I’m not a complete moron.  I know that there’s no way on this planet that you’re actually interested in me.  I know that you’re just trying to humiliate me.  See?  That was beneficial!

Why am I like this?  I’d love to be able to say something profound.  I’d love to have some amazing insight…but I don’t.  I don’t know why I’m like this.  I doubt I was born this way…but life happens, ya know?  I don’t know when it started or how.  Maybe it was gradually over time.  In fact, I’m sure that it was.  How do I change it??  Well, I don’t know that either.  Over the last several months a woman, with whom I’ve become close, has said so many wonderful and encouraging things to me.  She has complimented my heart, my brain, my spirit.  She has told me all of these good things about myself and I’ve really had a hard time believing her…accepting what she says to be true.  I appreciate her compliments, but when she says, “you’re such a quick learner!  You really absorb information!”  I think, “No I’m not. You should meet so-and-so.  She’s a lot smarter than I am…”  When she asked me if I’d ever consider going back to school and pursuing my doctorate like I’d originally intended I thought, “I can’t do that now.  I’d never be accepted.”

I don’t think the answer is showering me with compliments.  I think that is ridiculous.  But I would appreciate some prayer…and I’m going to begin to pray and ask God what He would like to teach me through this.  I’d like to tell Him that I often feel like Moses– “but I’m not a good speaker…I can’t do it.  Aaron would be way better than I would be at this job…I’m not qualified.”  I’d like to ask him to strengthen those areas which need strengthening…not with false arrogance and showy confidence.  But the confidence that I know I was created by a God who doesn’t make mistakes…by a God who started a good work in me and will be faithful to complete it.

In My Backyard

This is one of those posts that I have to write, but I’m not going to enjoy it. It isn’t going to make me feel good and it isn’t probably going to make you feel good either. It isn’t full of warm fuzzies, puppies, kittens, and rainbows. It’s one of those things that I need to write. If I don’t, my heart will die just a little bit. My soul will begin to shrivel up. My conscience will become like a flower trampled under a thousand feet and left praying for a moment of peace and sunlight. I will have denied everything I know to be true and done the opposite of what I know is right and encourage my children to do. Am I being serious enough for you yet?

This afternoon I went to my son’s elementary school for the book fair. I was planning to stay for just a few minutes so I could redeem a gift card he had won by reading a ridiculous amount of books back in March. I went in and began perusing the books and games and located the librarian to enquire about the gift certificate. She told me that my son’s teacher probably had it in the classroom. I really didn’t want to spend a lot of time. I was on a schedule and had some babies at home that I really wanted to get back to (my husband was home-they weren’t alone) so I quickly went to the classroom to get the paper. My son excitedly showed me all the literacy stations in his classroom and the others nearby. We spent at least 15 minutes there and I told him that we really needed to go.

When I was about halfway down the hall I heard the voice of another teacher say, “I just heard something that made me ill.” I turned around and my son’s assistant teacher and another teacher with whom I’m not especially familiar, were standing there looking at us. She touched her forehead jokingly and repeated, “I just heard something that made me ill.” I was pretty sure that she was referring to our son switching schools next year. I said, “Oh, is it about Kitty-Cat Elementary?” (I changed the name of the school for privacy and so we could have a few puppies and kittens). “Yes,” she replied as they walked toward me. I turned to face them. Smiling, I said, “Well, we moved mid-year and having to pick Emery up has been a challenge for us. We have only one car and we are in the district for Kitty-Cat Elementary. They will be able to bus him to our house and that will be a lot easier for us.” She responded, “Well, have you looked into maybe going to Puppy-Dog Elementary instead?” I’m new to the area so I’m not especially familiar with each school in the district, but I have heard of Puppy-Dog, but we aren’t in that district so I said, “Oh? Would they bus him to our house from Puppy-Dog?” “Oh, I don’t know about that. It’s just that Kitty-Cat isn’t a very good school. He is up here,” as she put her hand up to eye level, “and they are down here,” as she put her hand by her waist, “He is just beyond those kids.” “Oh really?” was all I could get out still thinking about the time. “You know, they cater to the lower eschelon kids…you know,” and here it came…she turned her face toward the side, as if she was about to tell me that they teach sorcery and witchcraft, “hispanics and blacks.” Her face looked irritated, disgusted, and full of disdain.

I can’t imagine that the look of surprise on my face could be missed. I wasn’t even sure if I had just heard what I thought I did. Could the woman who had been assisting my son’s class actually feel that way about “hispanics and blacks?” Could someone who had loved my son for the last 9 months, showered him with praise, and made him so happy really be this ignorant? I had no idea what to even say, “Oh really? Well, I have a good friend who teaches at Kitty-Cat so I’m sure I will just talk to her about what the school is like.” “I think that would be a good idea,” she said, nodding arrogantly.

And I walked away feeling as if someone had just punched me in the stomach. A million thoughts were flying through my head, but none of them were clear. Do I report her? Do I say something? If I do say something, will it affect how she treats my son for the rest of the year? What if it really is a bad school? What if he really doesn’t like it there? She obviously doesn’t know that I am part Mexican or I don’t think she would have included “hispanics” in her list of naughty words.

I left that conversation feeling so frustrated, hurt, confused, angry, sad…every negative emotion you can think of. It would have been different if she had said, “I don’t recommend Kitty-Cat because the test scores are quite low,” or “I don’t recommend kitty-cat because the funding is low and they aren’t able to offer programs that I think your son really enjoys,” or “there have been many reports at Kitty-Cat of gang violence, head lice, or bad breath.” I mean…ANYTHING else but what she said.

And as I walked out to my car, my mind reeling, the word popped into my head…the word I hate to use because it is, in my mind, often overused. A word that carries with it so much pain, suffering, and hatred that I avoid using it at all costs because it implies something intentional and vindictive…something violent, even if only in the heart of man: Racism. This woman was racist. She is ignorant. She is foolish.

As I mentioned, I’m not normally one to pull out that word. I think that the label of racist needs to be reserved for only the select few who truly are complete and total a-holes. It is reserved for people like Hilly Holbrook from The Help. And maybe that’s not fair of me to reserve it only for those people, but I do. Maybe I’ve been so fortunate to be in a family who believes that all men and women are created equal that I had hoped that this kind of private racism didn’t exist anymore…at least not where I live…or with anyone I know.

I don’t know if Kitty-Cat is a good school or not. I don’t know if they have a great budget, wonderful programs, high test scores, and the best playground equipment. As long as it doesn’t have a “white” drinking fountain and a “black” drinking fountain, I really don’t care. Why is a school not “good enough” for my son just because he’s a white boy? If it isn’t “good enough” for my son, then it isn’t “good enough” for anyone else’s. These are children, after all. Don’t we want each and every single child to be provided with the same opportunities to grow, learn, and thrive? Don’t we want every single child to believe in himself? Don’t we want every single child to feel loved, cared for, and nurtured?

As I unlocked my car door and put the children in the van I thought that I need to do something…say something. But what? When? How? Who do I tell?

I put the keys in the ignition and started the van. “It’s all God’s children singing Glory Glory! Hallelujah! He reigns! He reigns!” In the midst of my chaos and frustration, God stepped in. Through the perfect song on the radio He reminded me that every single one is HIS child. He created all of us. He created the beauty that is seen in the diversity of our skin. He himself said to go out and share the good news with EVERYONE. EVERY tribe. EVERY tongue. EVERY nation.

Now I am praying for Kitty-Cat. I’m praying that the hearts of the community are opened. I’m praying that my son’s heart is nurtured. I’m praying for the friends we will surely meet. And I’m praying for that teacher. I’m praying that she will realize the error of her thoughts…that her heart would be soften and her mind would be renewed.

So. My son is going to Kitty-Cat elementary next year…

Healthy Boundaries

Boundaries.  The word itself seems to carry a negative connotation.  Whenever we bring up the issue of boundaries it is because someone has crossed them.  Rarely do you hang out with some friends, sip coffee, and have a lighthearted, enjoyable conversation about boundaries.  Over the last several years, though, I’ve learned that boundaries are really good, healthy, and keep relationships and priorities in order.  A life without boundaries promises to be a life of misery and chaos.  

There are lots of people who, for various reasons, struggle to establish and maintain boundaries.  Boundaries have always been a difficult for me.  I remember being in a youth group in high school and sharing things about myself that no one else would have dared to mention.  What everyone else viewed as so incredibly personal was, to me, no big deal. As a child I remember telling random adults whom I’d just met, “I’m Kristin.  My parents got divorced when I was 5,” as if that’s some kind of really great small talk, conversation starter. (For the record, I think I was actually 6 when it was finalized…).  It was more like an introduction at a support group than with a stranger.  

As I grew up I felt out of control of my life, frustrated, and guilty.  I felt like I was always working to make everyone else happy or at least not hurt anyone else’s feelings.  It felt pretty miserable, to tell you the truth.  What I really wanted, but didn’t know, was a clear set of boundaries. 

I’ve been reading through the book, Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.  I have, admittedly, only gotten through certain sections so far, but plan to really go in-depth once I get enough free time.  I have to say, though, that what I’ve read in the last couple of months is information I could have used a long time ago!  A LONG time ago!

The book starts off with a look into the life of a woman who doesn’t have boundaries.  I can see myself so clearly in this fictional story.  This woman is so afraid of the consequences of saying, “no,” that she just says, “yes,” to everyone…and she is miserable.  Now, I don’t usually struggle to say, “no,” in the same way she does.  Not these days, anyway, but I sure did as a teenager and college student.  If someone needed help I was always saying, “I’ll help,” or “I’ll work for you,” or, “sure, I’ll join your club.”  It made my life incredibly busy and burning out was just a matter of time.  But not learning to establish boundaries at the beginning set me up for a lack of boundaries as an adult.  

When I went off to college, for example, I looked forward to the separation from my family. Not because I didn’t love them, but because I looked forward to becoming an adult and was excited to become my own person.  I attempted to establish boundaries by explaining a future limit of communication.  I wasn’t going to answer every phone call or email.  I needed time to make friends and be independent.  I definitely got quite a bit of push back and spent a lot of time trying to repair damages and explain myself.  When I became pregnant with Emery I was asked by many friends and family members, “how did that happen?  Weren’t you using protection?  Why weren’t you on birth control?  What are you going to do?”  I could have anticipated those questions, but it didn’t make them any less awkward or uncomfortable. I chose to answer the questions, even though they made me feel uncomfortable, because I was worried about how saying, “That’s none of your business” would make someone else feel. When I attempted to establish boundaries before Emery was born, it was met with an incredible amount of resistance…resistance I wasn’t prepared for and I spent a lot more time trying to negotiate and explain myself than I probably should have.  

The tales could go on and on and on of times when boundaries were crossed and I walked away feeling out of control of my life and like I needed to attempt to cater to the needs of other people by allowing them access into my life even when I didn’t want it, or by answering questions even when I didn’t think I should.  

So, enter the suggestion of reading this incredible book.  Wow.  I can already see that these suggestions are going to be life-altering.  There’s an entire chapter in the book entitled “Resistance to Boundaries.” Resistance can take the form of anger, guilt, and even physical resistance.   

“The most common resistance one gets from the outside is anger.  People who get angry at others for setting boundaries have a character problem.  Self-centered, they think the world exists for them and their comfort.  They see others as extensions of themselves.

When they hear no, they have the same reaction as a two-year-old has when deprived of something: ‘Bad Mommy!’  They feel as though the one who deprives them of their wishes is ‘bad,’ and they become angry.  They are not righteously angry at a real offense.  Nothing has been done ‘to them’ at all. Someone will not do something ‘for them.’  Their wish is being frustrated, and they get angry because they have not learned to delay gratification or respect others’ freedom (Prov. 19:19).” (Boundaries, pg. 241)

So why am I sharing all if this is?  Isn’t it almost crossing my own boundaries to reveal these personal struggles?  Yes and no.  This is certainly not like one of my normal blog posts. I am, however, hoping to encourage anyone else who is struggling with boundaries.  I have found that, for me, the most difficult boundaries to establish are with parents.  Why?  Because I love them and they love me.  It’s easy to think, “they’re just trying to help.”  That may be true!  But there is still a point when adult children are not required to “obey” their parents or share private information.  “How can you call yourself a Christian?  Doesn’t the Bible say ‘Honor your parents?'” (Boundaries pg. 244). It may be ok for parents to give advice to adult children or to even offer to help financially or with babysitting grandchildren, etc., but when offering advice, financial assistance, or help with babysitting turns into an expectation of obedience, then it isn’t help but manipulation.  And I believe that it is, often, unintentional. (This can go the opposite way too, folks. Kids can try to push parents into doing things for them by pulling out the, “but I’m your kid. Don’t you love me?” card.)  

A friend shared a story with me about her wedding and how a close family member had offered to pay for the cake.  It became clear, though, that with the offer of paying for the cake came some strings that had not been negotiated into the deal.  My friend, because she’s amazing, strong, and clear with her boundaries, had to ask directly, “ok.  Is this a gift or not?”  

So maybe mom and dad have offered to watch your kids for free so you can get a job.  Now mom and dad are giving you parenting advice, taking over school projects, field trips, and giving you diet suggestions.  You’re not thrilled with all the new advice.  You’re still the parent, right?  But you’re afraid that if you ask them to stop that they’ll stop watching the kids.  Maybe they will.  Establishing boundaries often has consequences.  

It reminds me of the 13 colonies before the American Revolution.  The colonial years are like birth through high school.  War sets in during college years when you’re fighting for your independence.  The war ends when boundaries are set and the sovereignty of your own person is recognized and respected.  The consequences may be hurt feelings, financial withdrawal, lots of resistance, and a bit of uncertainty, but is necessary for a healthy relationship between parents and children.

Certainly boundaries with parents aren’t the only difficult boundaries to establish, but I do think they’re the most difficult because the most is at stake. You may have a difficult boss who expects you to come early and stay late at the last minute, friends who push their beliefs about food or medicine on you, or a church leader who tries to make you feel guilty when you can’t volunteer to lead the children’s choir.  What have learned from this book is that my boundaries are my responsibility.  No one can make you feel guilty.

“…you must view anger realistically.  Anger is only a feeling inside the other person.  It cannot jump across the room and hurt you.  It cannot ‘get inside’ you unless you allow it…do not let anger be a cue for you to do something.  People without boundaries respond automatically to the anger of others.  They rescue, seek approval, or get angry themselves.  There is great power in inactivity…Keep a loving stance while ‘speaking the truth in love.'” (Boundaries pg. 242)

“If guilt works on you, recognize that this is your problem and not theirs.  Realize where the real problem is: inside.  Then you will be able to deal with the outside correctly, with love and limits.  If you continue to blame other people for ‘making’ you feel guilty, they still have power over you, and you are saying that you will only feel good when they stop doing that.  You are giving them control over your life. Stop blaming other people.” (Boundaries pg. 245)

Isn’t that incredibly empowering?!  Are you willing to accept the consequences of establishing healthy boundaries?  To say, “I don’t have to answer that question,” or, “thank you for sharing what has worked for your family, but my husband and I have a different way we want to handle this situation,” or, “that activity sounds like something you’ll really enjoy.  I hope you have fun, but it’s just not something that interests me,” and not allow yourself to feel unnecessary guilt or pressure?  I know I am!  Because I finally can see and know that my boundary issues are my own.  

Disclaime:r I have great parents and wholeheartedly believe that every parent-child relationship has its struggles and seasons of establishing new boundaries.  I don’t look forward to the day when I realize that I have crossed the line with my adult children and need to step back.  I don’t look forward to the day when they move out and no longer need me in the way they do now.  This post is in no way to guilt or shame my parents or any other parent.  It is purely to encourage others, my parents included, to establish healthy boundaries with friends, family, co-workers…etc. and to read the book Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend.