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livingwater

If you can imagine one of those desert movie scenes where the main character is all haggard-looking, stumbling in search of water, that is pretty much me.  All. Summer. Long.

Towards the end of fifth grade, my boy’s anxiety seems to build ferociously, likely due to the anticipation of  starting middle school this fall.  “Easy” transitions are a rare phenomenon in the world of autism and this is going to be no joke.  Plagued with the obsessive need to pick at the skin on his fingers and feet, my boy spends most of the summer pitifully trying to care for his self-inflicted wounds, smothering them with Vaseline, putting on Bandaids, lifting the Bandaids to see if everything is “okay” and replacing those that are about to fall-off. All day.  Every day.  Crying, whining, excessive fast-paced talking and pleading for reassurance.  “I am so tired of suffering!” my boy laments.  “I wish I could be in someone else’s body!”  My boy suffers. Our family suffers.

This is not the first time along our 12-year journey that autism strips me of my calm composure, leaving my nerves raw and exposed.  Angry and exhausted,  I steal away to our bedroom closet, slump against the mirror and sob, cursing, and shaking my fist at God.  Why are you allowing this to continue?  Where are you?! I can’t take it anymore!  The storm inside me subsides temporarily.  I breathe.  I ask God to pray for me because I am just too tired to think.  I open the door, quietly descend the stairs and pick-up where we left-off.

Later in the summer, I glance at the dried-up stream bed beside the path I walk on a rare morning alone.  That stream is just like my soul.  All dried-up.  I smile to myself as the Bible story comes to mind where Jesus tells the Samaritan woman sitting at the well that she needs to ask for Living Water.  Water for the soul.  “Give me Living Water,” I pray.  And God offers me small drinks of water, just to get me through until the end of summer.  Until I can breathe again.

An unsuspecting friend asks about my summer and before I can say much of anything, tears stream down my face and she puts her arms around me while I quietly let out a few sobs.  “How can I help?” she asks.  “Just do what you are doing, ” I tell her.  “Sit here with me and listen.”  She shares my pain. My mother-in-law spends time alone with my girl, allowing her to enjoy a few hours away from the tension in our household. My parents bravely take both my girl and boy for a weekend at their house on the farm while my husband and I enjoy a quiet house by ourselves.

These desert seasons have taught me that we are not meant to live life solely on our own strength.  There are times when we have to admit our own thirst so that others can provide Living Water for us.  Sometimes just enough to keep us going until we can reach a long stretch of fresh flowing water. For me, that life-giving stream comes in the form of a new school year. I will take this time to breathe in quiet.  To listen and give my soul what it needs. And then with a quenched spirit, I will offer a cup of water to the next thirsty soul.

 

 

 

 

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teaartjournal

I sit cross-legged on the floor of my bedroom closet, a freshly made cup of peppermint tea in one hand, the white pages of my art journal splayed across my lap and a bag of crayola markers plopped by my side.  Word on the street is that I am either deaf or dead, according to my girl.  Truth be told, I am in Mommy Time-out.  I have  endured an epic day of parenting and there seems to be no relief in sight as my girl stands outside, pounding on the bedroom door.

And then, I just start drawing.  Drawing the fire burning in my belly.  The hand inside squeezing my heart tight.  The cup of tea meant to quench the fire.  Praise me in the storm.  The words keep repeating inside my head.  Praise me in the storm.  I form a body around that belly on fire and she manages to stretch her arms out, offering-up a tired heart in need of restoration.  This gesture is my act of praise.  Thank you for sitting right here with me in the storm, Lord.

Some seasons are like this, aren’t they?  A rough patch of parenting.  Marital discord.  Job stress.  Chronic health issues. When the only thing left to do is to tentatively offer-up our weary hearts and pray for the strength to endure the ache in the hopes that we will witness the beauty and character that is promised to us at the end.

Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. -James 2: 4

Oh, what a God we have who can and does use these hard seasons to birth even more beauty!  A God who provides us with peppermint tea for our anxious hearts.  A God who knows our own ache through his son Jesus.

I imagine Jesus felt this same longing during his time here on Earth.  Frustration over his people not listening to the message he wanted to give them.  A pained heart as he witnessed physical and emotional suffering all around him.  He didn’t just give-up and walk away, though.  Jesus persevered.  He responded with love and patience even as he cried out to his Father during those final agonizing hours on the cross.

As I travel in and out of these winter seasons of my life, I want to practice the art of praising God for the opportunity to grow in love and patience so that I might be more mature and complete.  Even if it means sipping tea in my bedroom closet.

teaartjournalclose-up

SewingkitI’ve been working (or should I say, “rockin’?”) my mama muscles pretty hard over the past month or so.  Attending back to school nights, taking my boy and girl to multiple doctors’ check-ups before and after school, taming my girl’s after school meltdowns over homework, troubleshooting my boy’s renewed obsessive compulsive want/need to go to the bathroom at least 3-4 times every waking hour, and wondering how it can be 9 o’clock in the morning one moment and 4 o’clock in the afternoon in just the blink of an eye.  Throw a week of house renovations into the mix and you have one tired mama.  Don’t get me wrong, I am super pleased with the facelift our house received with its new Hardiplank siding and cheery red front door; however, when you dash for the bathroom on the side of the house where you think you’re safe from public viewing only to hear someone calling your name (Senorita?) from the front door, it certainly does not make your home a haven amidst the hammering and Mexican music.TodayIknowanxietyThat said, renovations are now complete and I am still breathing.  I think my mama muscles may have a chance to relax for a little while, at least.  I have learned that life is just like this sometimes.  The crazy intense marathons balanced with a brief victory before the next marathon begins.  And while I try my best to refuel during the calm times, I am also learning how to nurture my spirit even when I think I don’t have the time.  Several weeks ago, I joined a group of beautiful women across the country for an online course offered through the Brave Girls Club called Soul Comfort.  Here, we are learning ways to comfort our souls on a regular basis through art journaling from a variety of prompts and stitching inspirational words and images on small pieces of fabric, soul patches!  I have to admit, I felt a little overwhelmed, at first, trying to gather all my supplies and have it fit inside one portable tote bag, but once I did my gathering, I realized this comfort bag is going to be my ticket to sanity during the weeks such as the one from which I recently emerged.  I have toted my bag with me to Starbucks in between errands, to the basement during family movie time, and to the couch alongside my husband while he watches the football game.  Because everything is all in this one bag, I don’t have to think about what I need.  All I have to do is open a journal or thread a needle.  I am learning that 15-20 minutes of soul comfort can go a long ways, especially when I am unable to fit-in large blocks of art time with messy supplies.latte&successentriesFor an “all or nothing” type girl like me, accepting that a little bit of comfort each day is better than none at all is one step towards living a more balanced life.  As we enter the holiday months ahead, I am challenging myself to validate and practice my soul comfort, even when I feel I don’t have the time.  How about you?  How do you bring comfort to your soul?

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