I Will Rejoice

My son has left, and my heart is heavy.

It’s been two days now.

I haven’t written, because I haven’t known what to say.

I still don’t.

So I will cling to my faith.

Know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. – Hebrews 4:18a

Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. – Matthew 6:33

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. – Proverbs 3:5-6

Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free. Psalms 118:5

And I will start rejoicing…
This is the day the Lord has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it. – Psalm 118:24

Because I know God is at work within him.
For it is God who works in you to will and to act on behalf of His good pleasure. – Philippians 2:13

My son is lost, but he will be found.
For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. – Luke 15:24

I will start rejoicing. And one day my heart won’t be quite so heavy.

Most Amazing Weekend

I just had the most AMAZING weekend with my Justice!

Seriously, I can’t ever remember enjoying his company as much as I did.

I’m not saying things didn’t get intense. They did. A couple of times, actually, but he pulled himself together pretty quickly.

When he did start to fall apart he was able to communicate what was going wrong. He could tell me he knew his behavior was not right. He did not take his frustration out on me. And he apologized rather quickly, once he pulled himself together.

Oh my gosh, I don’t know if it is he’s just maturing or is the combination of that and his new treatment, but he was a different kid.

I was able to relax around him. I didn’t have to walk on eggs shells or wait for the other shoe to drop, if you know what I mean.

We had a good time.

He is so funny. His sense of humor is so wrong. He is so inappropriate. He’s so dark. But again, is so funny. Funny now, because he was able to recognize the thin line of, “Ok, Justice, you’ve gone too far”, and not cross it.

IMG_20160313_082405916_HDR

That’s been a tough line for him to learn. Lots of arguments and hurt feelings have happened because of that line.

He’s my Car Chat Kid. He will go just about any place I go, just to get out of the house. That could be a trip to grab food, to driving to drop off something for someone way across town, or to picking up plastic bags from a friend, down town. We did all three this weekend, and boy did we talk!

We talked about drugs, we talked about lying, we talked about how ghetto we were while I was a single mom, and the school he first went to. He was actually pretty proud of it. He said his friends like him, because he doesn’t act White. I think it’s because he’s so inappropriate, but that might just be his mom talking.

We even talked about how amazing the 80’s were! Ok, maybe that part was all me, but I got him to watch a YouTube video about who Duran Duran was and their top ten hits.

On a trip to a grocery store, I got swindled by hustler, well sort of. She waited by my side door waiting for me to get out. I knew before I even opened it, she was going to ask for something.

She did. She was asking for money, or groceries, or even just diapers for her daughter if I didn’t believe she had really hit tough times and was in desperate need.

She sprinkled it with a lot of, God Bless You’s and God Be With You’s. Ugh, I hate when people use His name to try to make you feel guilty.

He called it. Walking back out to the parking lot with a bag of size six diapers, she was nowhere to be seen. “She didn’t want your diapers, mom. She just wanted your money. ”

He actually took my ghetto points away for not recognizing it first.

It’s alright. I gained them back during an episode of The Goldbergs. It was the scene where Murray was giving his son Barry a driving lesson and Barry was trying to smack the crap out of his little brother, Adam, in the back seat of the car. His dad yells out, hitting small children in the back of the car, while driving, was an advanced maneuver.

“Justice, remember the wooden spoon I kept on the dash of my car? ”

” High five, mom! That was pretty ghetto. ”

Ah, good times.

Also, for the record, if you love the 80’s as much as I do, The Goldbergs, is awesome. It’s on Hulu. I love his mom and I’m getting all my boys a Mom Locket for their 16th birthdays. Just so they could have their mom close to their hearts, for always. Justice has already told me, he’d wear it with pride. 🙂

Yeah, it was a pretty good weekend. We stayed up until after ten watching silly sitcoms with Tim Allen, and Roseanne Barr, while listening to his shocking and disturbing jokes, as I plarned more bags for sleeping mats.

The highlight of the weekend, though, came at 5am this morning when I picked up my phone to turn off the alarm and there was a missed text. It was from Justice…

Love you good night.

Promises

I have lots of reasons why I started blogging. I think the first was to show others, they are not alone in their everyday struggles of being a mom and being a follower of Jesus. I wanted to encourage.

But I had other reasons too.

I wanted to leave a digital legacy for my children and children’s children. I thought, maybe if my kids don’t listen to me now, maybe when they become parents they will find something useful or at least encouraging here. And I always want them to know how much they are loved.

But another reason is because God promises he works all things for good. I have to believe that everything I’m struggling with, everything that looks like could be a disaster, in the long run, is going to turn out pretty ok.

I have to believe every sacrifice I made, every hard decision I’ve seeked counsel on, every prayer I prayed, was not in vane.

In the end, Christ wins. He is faithful and just and he promises he will protect his children. And my kids are his children and I have to believe there is no mess they find themselves in, that he can’t get them out of.

I have to believe this, because he promises.

He promises, and I want the world to see that he is faithful. And no matter what I am struggling with, what we are struggling with, everything will be ok.

I want it to be a Testament of his glory.

I am reminding myself of this today because what we’re now going through its a doozy. I am scared, and I’m afraid, and I want to freak out, but I’m not going to because these are his children too, right?

I know I’m usually pretty transparent, and I reveal probably too much about my life, but this time I can’t. I can’t, because it’s not my life I’m worried about. It’s not my story to share.

But I will ask for prayer.

Lord, God, my Father, you tell me to trust you. You say you will keep us safe.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

I’m holding you to this God. I know you won’t let me down. I know you see me, you see everything. And I know you give us free will to do as we please. But I also know,

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Lord, protect my child. Help him even when he doesn’t ask for help. Put people in his life that will help him make wise choices.

You’ve told me to …

Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it. (Proverbs 22:6)

I have done that. Now it’s your turn. And I know you will do it, because you promise.

Lord, grow my faith. I do not wish our circumstances to change. I know this trial will make us stronger and will bring us closer to you. So, grow my faith. The days may be long and I know they will be weary.

Provide me with comfort. Help me be strong enough to keep my eyes on you.

And may this blog be a reflection of your sovereignty and your goodness.

AMEN

These Kids!

A time has come that I have just as many teenagers in the house, as I do, little kids. It sucks.

I have a kid who’s running a snack shop out of a second backpack that he takes to school. Mind you, this is not something I authorized.

He just took his birthday money as seed money and bought his inventory that rivals and prices that undercuts, the ice cream truck.

I found out today his net income is about $50 a week. A week!

HE’S NOT EVEN IN HIGH SCHOOL YET!

He has a log that he keeps track of his inventory in. He knows what’s going out and how much is coming in. Today, after stocking up on chips, he sent a mass text to all his customers informing them of tomorrow’s “sales”.

Seriously? Who’s kid is this?

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t proud of him. But it does make me feel uncomfortable.

Being a single mom for so many years and then marrying and having to provide for even more kids, we never have had enough cash flow to trickle down in the form of allowances until just recently.

All of my kids, at one time or another, has wanted to start something to earn money. I’ve just never let them, in fear of them ripping off our community.

A few months before Christmas, I had another one of my kids snatch the opportunity during a Pampered Chef party, to go out and advertise his services for cleaning up pet waste and pulling weeds, before I knew what he was doing or could stop him.

The little booger was raking in $10 for two days of after school work, every two weeks.

This one’s not even in Jr High.

I kinda feel bad for my oldest. He never learned he could hustle too, just as long as mom never found out.

At seven, I caught him tying his Halloween candy to strings and selling them as candy necklaces for $1 outside our townhouse. Also caught him selling his Tec Deck skateboards for $6 a pop at school.

The issue I’m having now, isn’t that I’m afraid of them ripping someone off, but the power they think they have because they have money.

I’m having problems, particularly with my 14 year old retail entrepreneur and his 15 year old roommate, who think they are single college bachelor’s and can’t understand why they can’t have an ice chest in their bedroom to store cold soda, even though they KNOW they are not allowed to have any food or drinks in the bedrooms.

These two, who which are part of the reason we have a second fridge and freezer in a garage, that can’t be opened, unless by key that is hidden in my husband and my bedroom; thinks it’s unfair and doesn’t understand why they can’t keep their food in their room so others can’t get into it.

I say, then don’t buy it, if you think there’s going to be a problem. Sucks not being able to trust those you live with, don’t it.

After listening to them argue with, and complain about, and try to “reason” with me All. Day. Long, I tell them tonight we will talk to Mike.

After giving my husband the grueling details of my day, I call my two swindlers into our room to let them plead their case for an ice chest.

The one makes his request. My husband looks them straight in the eye, says “No.” And my son says, “OK.” and gets up to leave.

WHAT?!?

Wait. What?

All day long they gave me nothing but grief. I stood my ground. They almost had me swayed, but I didn’t. And these kids are mastermind manipulators!

“I’m over it”, he says. Well, I’m not! Oooh… I’m….going out for a walk!

Dear God in Heaven, this is a whole different game we’re playing now. These kids are getting smarter and more devious than me. It will be only by your grace that I won’t be out witted. So I continue to ask you for your help, your strength and your will to parent these delinquents.

May Mike and I always be a united force, no matter how frustrating I find it at times. May we continue to think as one. May we serve you well, as we raise your sons and daughter.

Taking Back My 5 Minutes

I have a son who turned 18 a week ago. I’ve been pushing him to get his driver’s permit.

Two years ago I was pushing him to get a job. I knew a whole new world would open up for him if he found work outside of home and school.

And it has! But it also took a whole year and a half to get him out there.

He’s a little slow on the growing up part. It’s ok. He’ll get there eventually. I’m not worried about him getting his permit, one day. It will happen.

But if we’re not careful time can move quickly too.

It has been suggested that I need to stop driving my 18th old son to work, which is less than a mile from our house, and start making him walk.

I understand the value of teaching him responsibility and independence, but what people don’t understand is I drive him to spend time with him.

He’s got new friends. He’s learning new things. He’s being introduced to outside opportunities.

It’s less than five minutes away, depending on traffic, but I milk it for all its worth.

I want to hear about his new world. We talk about school. We talk about family. We talk about the future.

All in five minutes to and from his work, he’s mine.

He lives in my house but I hardly ever get to see him. He’s either sleeping or at school. I see him for a few minutes, while he’s transitioning from one to the other.

That’s it, other than driving him to and from work. This is the only alone time I get. Call me selfish, but I don’t want to give up that time.

So I will compromise. I will not be driving him to work anymore. He will walk. He’s been walking. But after letting this go on for a week, I’ve decided something.

If he is to walk, then I will walk too. I’m still teaching him responsibility and independence but I’m also teaching him he’s loved.

Besides… I get more than five minutes! 🙂

Without Expectations

So, somehow in the last 24 hours, I became a parent to an adult child. I don’t even know how this is possible. Where has the time gone?

Because Tunes and Justice are so different now compared to their five year old selves, we often joke about five-year-old-Tunes and fourteen-year-old-Justice.

While fourteen-year-old-Justice is much easier to get along with, than five-year-old-Justice, I miss five-year-old-Tunes.

He was so sweet and caring. He was carefree and fun. He always had and endless supply of smiles and hugs.

But as he has grown, his anxiety has taken much of those traits away. I love my son with all my heart, and it’s so hard on me to see how his illness has stolen his childhood and has changed who he is.

This is not how I believe he was designed to be. And because I still hold onto those old expectations of him, I am often left bitter and disappointed.

He has just turned 18, and yesterday we joked about giving me my last 17 year old hugs and saying goodnight for the last time to my 17 year old.

Today we are having his party. I have spent weeks trying to figure out what to get him to make this a special occasion. I’ve asked him what he would like and I get the same response every time. I don’t know, it doesn’t matter.

But it does matter. It matters to me.

Late last night, while my husband and I were still out looking for something, I told him I wasn’t looking forward to tomorrow.

I have all these high expectations in my head for his 18th birthday and I know I’m going to be let down again.

He’s not going to be happy. He’s not going to smile and be excited to see his family. From the moment people start showing up, and he’s forced from his room he’s going to be harassing me to let him go back. Social gatherings exhaust and irritate him and he makes sure they are equally as hard on me too.

And here I am trying to make it special. I guess the only reason we are still doing it is because he’s always shared his party with his little sister who’s birthday is just four days before his. And well, eight years later, of course.

Every year, I’ve always given him the option to have separate parties, but every year he’s always wanted to share with her. His relationship with his little sister has always been a close one. And this one is probably going to be their last.

So, as we’re wandering around the store last night, really wanting to get him a bike since he has no interest in getting a car or his license, but knowing it’s not really something he wants either, I decided to not get him anything.

Well, anything for right now.

I can’t see spending so much money on something that he may not even use, just to give him something special, that he doesn’t even care about.

And then there is the high expectation of seeing a look of delight and excitement in his eyes when it is revealed, that I’m never going to get. And the disappointment sets in for me and for him.

Why put us both through that?

So I’m getting him nothing. No expectations. No disappointment. He doesn’t care anyway, right?

But I will tell him this is just for today. We don’t have to put so much pressure on this one day. We have tomorrow and even the next day. We can take our time to make this time special; to make this gift special.

I am always rushing him; expecting him to be what I consider normal.

He doesn’t get A’s and B’s, but he does still pass…barely. I pushed him to get a job at 16, but he eventually did get one at 17…and a half. I’ve taken him several times to get his drivers permit, but he just doesn’t want it…yet. But he will.

Just like he will think of that special gift from me. One day he will know and he will care, and that will be the day I celebrate with him.

We’ll get there. But this time without expectations.

Tunes

It’s a quarter till four, right now, and once again I’m awaken by the sound of my son who is getting sick in the bathroom next door.

Mind you, I’m hearing this through the sound of the running shower, that has probably been running for possibly as long as an hour, maybe longer.

Water soothes him, or at least sometimes. Obviously today is not one of those days.

And yet, he still gets accused of using his anxiety as a crutch.

My soon to be 18 year old boy, who is in his last semester of high school, is trying to be a man, is trying to suck it up, is trying to handle this on his own.

Anxiety is real. Anxiety can bring you to your knees. It is physical as well as mental and it breaks my heart to lay here, knowing how real, how painful, how paralyzing this disorder is to my son, who is just a boy and is being told, almost commanded by outside sources, to stop letting his anxiety get the best of him.

My son is NOT letting his anxiety do anything. He is held hostage nearly every night, or morning from around two a.m. to four. He is not using his anxiety as anything. He is fighting, everyday, EVERYDAY!

Now I can hear the tunes of his phone playing from the room. I can imagine my son, sitting on the cold floor, with his head between his hands, rocking back and forth quietly trying to get lost in the music, trying to shut the noise off in his mind.

He doesn’t even come to me anymore.

God please! Make this stop. He’s just a boy. He’s my boy.

Protect him. Keep him company. Bring him peace. Meet him there on that bathroom floor. May he feel your calming presence lay over him like a warm blanket.

Lord, give him your strength when he is weary. Give him understanding of who he is, in you.

He shouldn’t have to be this tough and then have others tell him how weak he is. Settle his stomach, as well as his mind.

When Winning Looks Like Giving Up

Six thirty five this morning, Tunes enters my room having an anxiety attack. “Don’t make me go, Mom. I don’t want to yell at anyone.”

I hate these attacks! They are robbing my son of his life. Of his childhood. Of his right now.

He’s going to miss another day of school. A day where someone is probably going to yell at me for not making him go.

A day that is going to slip him farther back in his classes that he already has Fs in. He’s only got three classes to go through, and he can’t get through them.

He swears he’s going to pass them, and he probably will. He has done this every semester since sixth grade.

But if I make him go, the illness will turn him into a person he doesn’t want to be. It’s already done that to some degree already.

He’s cold. Uncaring. Not helpful. Lazy. Disrespectful. Selfish. Mean. Cross. Irritable. Grouchy. Sad. Depressed. Anxious. Hurting.

But THIS isn’t my son! I know my son. He’s creative. He’s smart. He’s funny. He’s a leader. He takes control. He gets things done. He loves little kids. He’s confident. He’s carrying. He’s loving. He’s so much more!

But this illness steals this from him. And when he has an attack, it ravishes his body. It holds him hostage. It makes him do things he doesn’t want to do.

He snaps at people. He calls them names. He intimidates. He can’t focus. He can’t get anything done. He turns into an ass.

I don’t like using that word, especially to describe my son. But you know what I mean when I say it, don’t you.

He doesn’t WANT to be that, but he has no control.

During these attacks he’s doing everything he can to just get through the moment. Which, a moment can last hours. He can’t breath. His chest hurts. His stomach is upset. His heart his pounding. His head is throbbing. He just wants to stop hurting. He’d do anything, agree to anything to just make it stop.

And then here’s someone telling him to listen in class. Do the work. Be polite to those who talk to you. Help your sister. Smile. Relax. Knock it off. Be friendly. Suck it up. Stop being such a jerk.

Oh, I could force him…Oh no I can’t. I’ve tried. You know what happened? I got text after text.

Mom, please let me come home. Just this one day mom. Please, I can’t do this. It hurts. Mom, I need help. Please help. Make it stop. MOM!

It breaks my heart.

Then, when he tries to force himself, he does what he should. He goes. He listens…well maybe. He sort of does the work. But it’s not right. Then he snaps. He yells. He becomes, well…you know .

See, I think my son forces himself every day. Everyday is hard for him. Everyday he struggles. Everyday he does what he thinks he should. Everyday he listens, well maybe. Everyday he does work, sort of. And he snaps. And he yells. And he’s difficult to be around. And…and…and, yeah.

People see him as an ass.

But on those nights when everyone is asleep, when the house is quiet, he talks with me. And he laughs with me. He shows me things he can do. He’s so talented. He’s so smart.

And he so can’t see it.

So here we are. I let him stay home. Was it the right thing to do? I don’t know. Maybe yes, maybe no. But I believe there are days when he just can’t force himself anymore. And that’s ok.

To continue to fight, he recognizes, turns him further into someone he doesn’t want to be. And that’s what I recognize as a victory, not a defeat.

Be well, my son. Do whatever you need to do to get through this moment, for as long as this moment is. You are not weak. You are strong. What you do is loving.

And you are so very loved.

To Trust

It was just over two years now that I remember sitting next to my sons in a large church service. One of them had his ear buds in and the other was slouched forward with his elbows on his knees and head in his hands.

They came, out of respect for me, but here they sat in total disrespect of their King. I thought to myself, I can make them come, but I can’t make them worship.

I looked at them and knew they weren’t getting anything out of this. Actually I stopped myself. That wasn’t true. They were getting something out of this.

What they were getting was mom who was making them come, and one day when they turn 18, they were never going to step foot inside another church again.

They sat there with their minds closed and by making them continue to go, I saw that I was adding the concrete to seal it shut.

I decided I wasn’t going to force them to go any longer.

Sadly, they haven’t gone with me for the past two years.

Well, our family now goes to a different church. There is nothing sparkly or sexy about this one.

We meet in our pastor’s house but it’s mostly just to disciple our kids. Our tithes go towards what we do, rather than where we meet. Our spiritual meat comes from doing life together in small groups during the week and by serving.

My sons know this and do you know what happened today? Justice, the one I only get two weekends a month, wanted to come.

Now I’m not going to try to read to much into it. He came, but sat in with the little kids. But he still came. It gave me hope.

You want to know what I was learning in the next room? That God is pretty big. That on the first day, he made the heavens….have you heard about the heavens? Yeah, it’s pretty big too. All the galaxies that are out there, the stars, their sizes, their sounds. Yeah, the make sounds too.

…and then he made the earth. And on that little earth, he made a little man. And that little man did a great job of screwing everything up, but instead of flicking him out of existence, he sent his son, who was beat, buried, and rose.

Three days after he laid in ground, God spoke, and from our shame, our guilt, our sin, his son rose up and said, trust in me and I will give you life.

This God is pretty big indeed. And if he could do this with his son, and that little man, I’m pretty sure he can take care of my son too.

I don’t need to be any of my sons’ Savior. They have one already. That is not a role I have to play anymore. I don’t have to be their Savior, or Healer in Justice’ case.

I don’t have to worry about his treatment or his moods, or his illnesses. I don’t have to be in control of his attitude, decisions or behaviors. I don’t have to be afraid.

So, what is my new role?

I get my son two weekends a month. My role is to stop being the person he’s running from and learn how to be the one he’s running to.

God didn’t do it by force. He made himself known and let us make a choice.

As someone who has learned to control things her whole life, this is pretty hard to let go of over night.

Maybe, just maybe I have been given four days a month to start practicing. Because it’s going to take time to change something I’ve been doing for a life time.

I can trust God. I’ve heard he’s pretty big.

Some Days I Stand

Today was a beautiful day. I don’t want it to sound like I live for the days that Justice is home. I am grateful for every day day I get to spend with any of my kids.

But Justice is my tough cookie. He’s the one I can’t seem to influence. He’s also the one I only get four days a month with. I’m still learning how to be ok with that.

So it appears I spend more energy reaching out to him. But please know, I exhausts myself trying to connect with my kids, EVERY DAY.

Friday I went searching for something we could all enjoy. And I found it!

Geocaching!

If you are new to the game, here’s a brief synopsis. You need a geocaching app on your phone. You pick a cache that is where you would like to go. They are all over the world. Do you know how crazy that is? It’s amazing.

Then your phone acts like a compass and directs you to the general location of the cache.

A cache is typically a plastic container that is hidden by someone who has placed some sort of treasure inside that you can trade for, add to, or just look at.

IMG_20160116_164736167

 

There is also a log. Everyone who has found the cache, writes their name and the date the cache was found.

I’m sure there are more complicated caches, but we’re new. This is what I’ve learned so far.

I have to say my kids LOVED it. Even the older ones. It was so great, finding something we could all do and enjoy.

It was a beautiful day because I not only connected with Justice, but with every one of my other kids too. It was amazing! Do you know how hard it is to engage five kids at the same time? (Tunes was at work.)

So it was a great day. It was an easy day. It was not messy. It was not emotional. It was a great family, memory day.

It was was a gift. Not everyday does it storm. Not everyday I’m on my knees.

Some days I stand with my hands held high in praise. I’m so grateful for that. It gives me hope. It builds my faith.