Thursday, July 29, 2010

Balance, Compromise, and the Art of Letting Go

I relate a lot to Peter. He was impulsive, headstrong, opinionated, and probably a little rough around the edges. He was also the rock upon which Christ chose to build His church. What I relate most to was his enthusiasm. What he was into, he was all in. When Jesus washed his feet, he asked Him to wash the rest of him too. When Jesus walked on water, Peter was the only one who would get out of the boat. He was too proud to realize that he needed Jesus' help and boasted that he would follow Him anywhere, only to deny Him a short time later.

Looking back, I can see that's been my approach to life. An insatiable thirst to know the truth. To do what's right. To change everything to make it right, usually under my own strength. To always have the answer to everything, and rebuke those who choose a different way. To follow hard after Jesus, no matter what the cost. I know God loves my heart, and He made me the way I am. I'm just continually learning to submit that back to Him for refining.

My lifestyle over the last few years has not lent to a lot of quiet time. "Be still, and know I am God" has had to be contained into manageable 1/2 hour chunks. Until now. God has blessed me with a content baby, and I have not changed much of my household routine except to not go to work. I have had a lot of quiet time on my hands. And reached some new perspective.

I have spent most of my time up until now agonizing over whether I am doing things right. Do I dress modestly enough? Am I providing good nutrition for my family, especially my children? Have we made a mistake setting up our lifestyle so I have to work? Why can we not get the hang of good money management? Should I still be holding Zoe for naps or start "sleep training"? Can I eliminate the chemical use in my home? Can I reduce our garbage output? What about choosing fair trade options when I shop?

And this is just the tip of my iceberg, my friends.

As I've mentioned in a couple of previous posts on breastfeeding, I think He made our breastfeeding relationship the way it is to slow me down. To put me on the couch in a "time out" for a season. And I'm starting to see the fruit of it. I can't explain how, but I started to realize that there are a lot of things that don't matter. I mean, they matter, but they can't ALL matter to me. I had the revelation that I am exactly in the time I am supposed to be, the culture God wanted me to be immersed in, and instead of fighting it, I need to learn how to live a God-honoring lifestyle in the midst of it that would be a breath of fresh air instead of a cloud of oppression.

I am learning the art of letting go. I am seeking balance, and in the quest for it, I am learning appropriate compromise. For example, I would love to have completely homemade snacks in my daughter's lunch, but I just can't manage it and keep a healthy balance. So everything in her lunch is pretty much bought, but carefully chosen. (and some just for fun) I don't love it, but I can't kill myself trying to make it perfect. I discovered the other day that if I go with the flow with Zoe and don't try to force things I think she "should" be doing, they evolve under gentle guidance. Case in point, she is napping peacefully in her crib right now. By God's grace, and not by my effort. Even regarding my appearance. In my concern for modesty and confusion over whether it's right to enhance what God has given us, I have been reminded that God loves beautiful things. I could rest in the reassurance that is good and right to seek beauty, as long as you are not using it to define your worth.

In my journey, grieving has been a process of self-discovery. A refining fire. I have learned so much about how I think about myself, God, and others through what has surfaced since we discovered we were having twins 3 years ago. God is moving my security from the prison of self-righteousness and perfectionism to the solid Rock of His truth. And I have Nicholas & Olivia to thank for that.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Not So Angry Anymore

After I wrote my previous post, I glanced out the window and was comforted by this:

This engraved stone was a gift from our friends on the twins' 1st birthday. I think it's time that I started the memorial garden that I've been thinking about since then. That way, I can plant something new each year on their birthday.


I think I'm angry. But I'm not sure at whom and for what. I know some of it is directed at myself.

My perennial deficiency at organization and event planning makes me angry. I was left trying to figure out at the last minute how to honor my babies on their 3rd birthday. I ended up doing nothing because I was overwhelmed and frustrated. As their mother that tears me up with guilt.

The loneliness of all this still makes me angry. How does one know how to walk this out when no one you know has gone through it? What if the ones who have gone through it are at different stages of their grief and you still can't relate?

Having to explain my story makes me angry. I know this one's irrational. But it's still awkward. And that's my own hangup and God will work with me on it when He thinks I'm ready.

Seeing other people get to raise their twins makes me angry. This one's even more irrational. And selfish. I lift this ugly one up to God whenever it surfaces. But let's face it, I've always liked being the center of attention, and I really liked being a mom of twins. Yes, I'm still a mom of twins, but now who's going to know?

Not being able to see Corrie and his boy together makes me angry. They would have been so cute... I'll bet Nicholas would have gotten some kind of cool battery-powered Jeep or something like that this birthday. Not to mention the loads of Tonka trucks and dinky cars that are noticeably absent at our house. Corrie is a wonderful father of girls, but Nicholas' absence is a hole that will never be filled.

I could go on and on but it only makes me feel worse. Sometimes I get tired at the amount of things I need to accept, to let go, to lift up to God for healing. But He never does, and for that I am grateful. The anger is a reminder that I am bearing a burden again that I was never meant to carry on my own. His grace really is sufficient and is an ever-present resource to draw on when I'm in over my head. And as a grieving mother, I will always be in over my head.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

We Remember You

The twins' 3rd birthday kind of snuck up on me. As I was running around trying to complete too many errands yesterday I got blindsided by a hidden pocket of frustration that I didn't think was still there. The utter futility of trying to celebrate in any kind of traditional way a birthday of children that were no longer here.

So I recognized it for what it was, got my stuff done, and spent some time pondering what I needed to do with this birthday. I waste so much time either trying to do things perfectly or the way they "should" be done. I waste so much time trying to avoid people's judgment of whether I've done things the right way or not. I was going to buy some balloons to release but it didn't hold any meaning for me any more. I would be doing it to tell people that's how I remembered my kids today, on their "would-be" 3rd birthday.

What also complicates things is that it's Corrie's birthday too. They now go hand-in-hand. But I realized this morning that this is in fact a gift to us. Because of Corrie's birthday, we already have the support of family and friends around us. We don't have to try to make a special effort to remember Nicholas & Olivia on a day all their own and because they share a birthday with their dad they will not be forgotten.

We will always remember that joyous day on July 18, 2007 when we were blessed to have Nicholas & Olivia join our family.

Monday, July 12, 2010


I'm now heading into territory with Zoe that I didn't really have with Nicholas & Olivia. The first three months with twins was so hectic that if you could get them fed, napped, and clean then you were doing well. Then Nicholas got sicker and sicker in his fourth month, and I spent that month in the hospital with him, missing out on what would have been my only opportunity to spend time with Olivia before she got sick.

Zoe is growing and developing daily. She is trying to roll over, wants to sit up, can raise herself up for long periods of time when on her tummy, and is starting to play with toys. She's so much fun! But my only point of reference now is Sabrina, and since her infancy was seven years ago already, I'm finding that I'm looking back at her photo albums to supplement my unreliable memory.

I'm sad that Nicholas & Olivia are being passed by already. They will be babies forever for us here on earth. I get the same feeling when someone asks me how many children I have. When I answer "four" they make such a fuss about how busy I must be that I feel it's dishonest if I don't clarify that my twins-who-would-be-3 are no longer with us. Then their focus turns toward Zoe because she's here and so cute. If I don't answer "four" then I feel guilty for leaving them out.

I know they can't be left behind because they have gone on ahead. Either way, they have still left a toddler-sized hole in our family that will never feel comfortable.