Sunday, August 29, 2010

rest in his arms tonight, friend

I don't have time to blog tonight.  Really, I don't.  But this day (Sat.) was so ripe with frustration, I need to sort out my thoughts.

There is always an answer to frustration.  The Lord is not a God of confusion or of disorder.  He provides rest for our souls. (Matthew 11:28-30)

We need not worry. (Philippians 4:6-7).

If we feel those things, something is off kilter--we're making an idol of something, or trying to please someone other than God.

So knowing this, I shall go through my frustrations in no particular order, asking the Lord for guidance.

1.  The fall clothes storage boxes are still sitting in my living room, having no other home.  I have more sorting to do, but the temps haven't gone low enough to warrant removing the summer clothing from our closets.  Only the mornings feel like fall; by noon, it feels like summer.  So, the storage boxes take up space in my living room, driving me crazy.  It's too much trouble to take them back to the shed, especially since I've already laundered the clothes we'll need for fall.

- Why am I bothered by the boxes, really?  They don't look all that messy.  The room just looks cluttered.  Am I doing the best I can to provide an orderly home, given that I have no help with the children, and that one of them, a toddler, needs constant supervision?   Yes, I am doing my best.  And the children aren't going to remember that when they were ages 1, 3, 6, and 8, Mommy had a number of storage boxes in the living room for a few weeks.

My off-kilter issue here is that I'm not remembering what God desires from me, as wife and mother.  What is important to God, in terms of my time?

Just that I, through His strength, love and respect my husband, and instruct my children in the truth of the Lord, while not eating the bread of idleness.  Nothing more.  When homecare frustrations mount in this season of life, I need to narrow my focus.  God's priorities must be mine.

2.  The children ruined the blinds in their bedroom and in the playroom.  Baby is the culprit in the playroom, and Mary and Peter in the bedroom.  I tried to stand the less-than-private situation as long as I could, but having such a big gap in coverage really bothers me.  Privacy makes me feel safe, and I spend a lot of time in this house--day and night--without my husband.  Today I spent money to remedy both situations--simple curtains in the playroom, and cheap replacement blinds in the bedroom.  We're both furious with the kids over these expenditures.  We've explained so often that we don't have money to replace things, and they were warned many times that the blinds were getting worse and worse.  Peter has anxiety and pulls the blinds apart whenever he hears a sound outside the window.  Mary pulls them apart to look outside when she has trouble falling asleep.

Children do childish things, of course, and they disobey.  But am I failing them, that they couldn't show restraint?  I think probably not.  Even if I were a perfect parent, they would still do childish things at this stage.  Part of my frustration comes in not knowing how tough to be on them for childish issues.  In this case, Daddy spanked them for the disobedience (although not the baby), and we told the two children they couldn't have any of their own food at the fair tomorrow--only bites of what Daddy chooses for himself, because of the money needed to replace the blinds.

My off-kilter issue here, I think, is that I'm trying to raise the kids in my own strength, rather than taking each situation to the Lord, and asking for wisdom (James 1:5).  If I pray beforehand, my response will always be of the Lord, and I need not worry about whether it was the right thing.

3.  While Peter still suffers from generalized anxiety disorder, his anxiety about being away from us is improving.  It began in 2009 during VBS.   Daddy accidentally left Mary in the nursery and came home with just the boys.  He immediately went back for Mary, but since then, separation anxiety has been rampant in Peter's life.  He's been convinced we'll leave him alone somewhere.  In an encouraging development,  Peter went to VBS this summer without much difficulty, even though neither husband or myself could stay and help.

While I am encouraged about that progress, something else has surfaced in the last few months.  Each night he worries at bedtime that I'm going to skip out on my children--take off into the sunset.  I have no car most nights, but that doesn't deter him from this recurring thought pattern.  He comes out to the living room where I'm either writing or reading, cleaning or folding, to check on me and tell me he is scared.  This often keeps him up an additional 45 minutes, making me feel like I can never get a moment's peace.  If he hears the front door open or close as I take out some recycling (during the day or in the evening), he runs toward the door with a panic-stricken face, breaking my heart.

His anxiety is a co-morbid disorder, often occurring with ADHD.  There is nothing I can do about it.  Absolutely nothing.  You can't talk an anxious person out of their fears.  They don't believe you.  Peter tells me outright that he doesn't trust me, although he wants to.  He tries to.  Telling him how much I enjoy being a mother does no good.  Telling him how blessed I am to be his mother, does no good.

His doctor knows about these fears.  If they don't improve with maturity and they significantly affect Peter's quality of life, anti-anxiety medication is warranted.  Hearing this, I envision Peter being on it for life, despite the unpleasant side effects associated with this type of medication.  My brother, who also has ADHD with anxiety,  has to take anti-anxiety medication to continue driving a car.

The number one answer to my stress over Peter's problems?  Give thanks. Count my blessings.  It could be worse--he's not, after all, suffering from a terminal condition.  And God's strength is revealed though our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9).  His grace really is sufficient, even when disability causes pain and discomfort.  Through His grace, my heart and Peter's heart can embrace disorder, being happy to serve the Lord through it.

So, how are you this Saturday night?  Are you burdened or frustrated?  Get paper and pencil.  List each bothersome issue, and ask God for help.  Then, sit back in your easy chair, close your eyes, and listen for his wisdom.

The next thing that pops into your head will probably be of him.  Funny how that happens.

Rest and peace will then be yours.

The alternative is that you can stew over your frustrating issues all evening and into the night, leading to fatigue in all your endeavors.

Rest in his arms tonight, friend!


Michelle said...

Ahhh, frustrations. I hope you can find answers that help. I am running out the door in a minute but wanted to let you know I got a great book from our interlibrary loan called A Woman After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George. It is truly amazing and you might like it!
Thinking of you!

Liz said...

Hi Mamabear... my daughter also has anxiety to accompany her ADHD. Sometimes it's hard to separate which is worse to deal with. Our doctor recommended a book called What to Do When You Worry Too Much by Dawn Huebner. It's kind of a workbook, but I think if the library had a copy it would still be worthwhile. The jist of it was explaining worry and anxiety to kids in terms they can understand. Worry is much like a tomato plant, the more you water and care for it, the more it will grow. From the book we did things like list the worries that she had. We also set aside a time each day that she could tell me what she was worried or anxious about. I didn't have to solve it all or even necessarily respond, just listen. I always prayed with her to give her worries to God. Anyway, after a while of our set aside time of talking about worries she said she didn't have any right now. Every now and then we get back in a jag and re-instate the techniques, but when I sense she's worrying about something I ask her if she's watering her tomato plant and she knows what I mean. It's given us a language in which to discuss this issue and it's given us both techniques to deal with it. Now, we're working through another book, same author (I think) called What to Do When Your Temper Flares. Again, it's helping. Partially because it's giving a language and simple techniques to use. Just thought I'd mention these resources to you. I know I can't "fix" it all for you, but our kids have walked very similar paths and I'm hoping this might help. Hugs!

Christine said...

Michelle, thank you for the book suggestion. I will look for it at our church library.

Liz, thank you, too, for the book suggestions. Peter definitely needs both of those books. He prays alone about his fears, and we pray together. Recently he told me that Jesus sung him a lullaby to help calm his fears so he could go to sleep. :)

Does Grace ever display anything related to OCD? Peter is strange about the possibility of chemicals getting on his hands or in his eyes--even when there's no danger of that. He has a paranoia about cooking around raw meat and eggs. He imagines that egg has splashed into his eyes if he is standing next to someone who has cracked one. He does and says a whole lot of things that worry me. It's almost like there are two or three disorders swirling around. There are a few people in both sides of Peter's family with multiple disorders.

Liz said...

Christine, yes she does display OCD'ish type symptoms. They have changed over time. There used to be a time that she would get out of bed 2, 3, 4 times or engage my husband or I to ensure her dresser drawers were shut just so. That has passed, but it just changes. Not the things you mentioned, but one of her things lately is "Do I have anything on my face?". She's absolutely obsessed about living one minute of her life if her face has a crumb or a smudge of food or dirt on it. It doesn't sound bad when I type it, but she might ask me up to a dozen times before she leaves the house -- even after she's checked in a mirror. This is not a child who obsesses at all with how she looks in general though. She tends to ask me questions over and over and over again. Even though I've given her the answer she desired and we both know she heard me. I've taken to saying to her, "We both know I've already answered that, do you want me to change my answer?". This helps a bit. Also, it helps me to know that when I've given her an answer she doesn't like and she asks again and again that she's not necessarily debating my authority or trying to get me to change my mind. During these times I try to be extra gentle and tell her that I'm not changing my mind. Often if I get her to repeat to me what I've answered the asking ceases immediately. Weird. One of our big challenges this summer has been an obsession with picking. Picking her scabs, picking the peeling finish off our deck, picking at our dog, just about anything. Poor kiddo has created some pretty nasty scars with this habit. Pretending I didn't care did not help, ointment and bandaids didn't help (she'd just take them off) and I was at my wits end. Her development pediatrician suggested some sort of incentive to motivate her to quit. I was against this for a while, but finally felt I had to try it. After multiple starts and stops she was able to go 10 consecutive days without picking at her scabs and we watched them heal and celebrated how miraculous our bodies are. She was so proud. She received her reward and still brags a bit about breaking her bad habit. Whew! The list of challenges go on and on, don't they? Just when it seems we've moved beyond a challenge, a new one appears. Take care,

Christine said...

Thank you, Liz. Peter does the checking behaviors too--asking for assurance over and over. The two of them do sound so similar. It's amazing!