Sunday, November 15, 2009

my pantry challenge

have you heard? apparently the times they are tough. the holidays are fast approaching and i've already declared that this will be a handmade christmas. which i'm actually pretty excited about, having finally found MY CRAFT. the one i don't screw up. the one which turns out nicely.

so for the next two weeks (excluding thanksgiving dinner, which will still be a very limited budget) i'm doing a self-imposed pantry challenge. creating meals solely from the food which already exists in my freezer/fridge/pantry. i will be buying milk as needed.

tonight i made a thorough inventory list, and started doing some searches on using their "ingredient" feature. thankfully, my husband is way more excited about the not spending money decision, and feels completely happy to eat potentially mediocre meals for a few weeks.

over the next few weeks i'll post what meals i've come up with, how it went over with the family, and any useful tips/tricks i find online.

our pastor was talking today about the biblical principle of sowing against/during lack. God's word to his people during seasons of draught and famine has always been to SOW. Christians ought operate under a different economy, one that is not filled with fear or greed, but is always focused on Kingdom economics and faith in the bigger picture, not focused on "facts" of the present in our natural world.

i think that this pantry challenge will be a good reminder for me of how much we have, how little we need, and give me the opportunity to take a look at what i'm sowing into...why sow into a full pantry when i could sow into God's work in the community around me?

tonight's pantry meal, a personal favorite, spaghetti with a jar of sauce, some olives and canned corn, and an english muffin turned into garlic cheese bread.

(p.s the pantry above is identical to my pantry, except for the part where mine is nowhere near so lovely and organized. )

Monday, July 20, 2009

hiding from myself- a digital diary entry.

sometimes i stop writing because i have nothing to say. or because i think no one wants to hear what i have to say. other times, like the last three months, i stop because i don't want to know what i have to say. i don't want to open myself up to my own thoughts. i'd rather ignore myself, as much as is possible.

i'm still in that mode...there has been a lot of life lately. the kind that is miserable and heartbreaking at the time, and absolutely necessary once you're down the road a bit and can look back. i hate where things are right now. but i hate it with hope, if that makes sense. (the WONDERFUL news in the midst of all this is that none of the misery has anything to do with kaia's health. we haven't been to the ER since May, which is BY FAR the longest stretch of health she's ever had in her nearly two years of living. PRAISE GOD.)

anyway, i'm being vague on purpose. don't intend to go any further in. except for this one thing:

several people have said the same thing to me recently, something that is without meaning or mal intention to the sayer, but that is deeply painful to me, though i can't quite explain WHY.

we're the first of our close friends to have kids. we have friends who want kids, friends who haven't decided whether or not kids are "for them" and friends who have tried and struggled and are now begining to look into adoption.

in the last few weeks, friends from each of these categories have commented (at separate times/occassions etc) that having seen ben and i have kaia has either confirmed their desire to NOT have kids, or has caused them to realize that maybe they don't want kids as soon as they thought, or maybe they wouldn't be so upset if they never had kids at all.

i know they are not saying that i'm a bad mother, or that kaia is a horrible child. i know that it most likely because the reality of our situation has been quite different then the rose colored glasses people tend to view parenting through prior to having their own children. i know that our parenting experience so far has not been anywhere near "the norm." most people aren't in the ER all the time. most people don't have to hear words like "epilepsy" "immune disorder" and "cancer" pertaining to their tiny child. most people don't have to hold their sweet baby down while needles and tubes violate their innocent little body. most people have family that will come, do dishes, take night shifts, let you leave the hospital for awhile.

and most people, i've found, aren't too open about how hard even the "regular" parenting stuff can some days it just plain sucks. what you'll mostly hear is that parenting is "the greatest thing i've ever done" and that people "can't imagine life before the baby."

so it's no surprise to me that the level of transparency i chose to live in has provided the people around me with a different perspective. that it has caused them to wonder, to worry WHAT IF their kid wasn't "normal" either? to have a greater appreciation for adequate sleep, alone time with their spouse, the absence of astronomical medical bills, the good feelings that accompany professional success, the pleasure that can come with a two-income household. our friends are more grateful for their spontaneous weekend ventures.

i guess i have at least some sense as to why these things are being said to me. what i can't figure out is why it HURTS me so much to hear?? partially because i worry that my friends may decide that the risk of having MY parenting experience is too great...much greater than the joy and satisfaction that most people experience in their children. like, what if i'm scaring people away from something they've always wanted? what if people miss out on a wonderful part of life because they don't want to live like i do? i know this is a large part of why it hurts to hear.

but there's something else, something that feels DEEPER and more painful about it. something that i can only identify in my gut and not find the words for. i've been sitting here, hands on the keyboard, waiting for the understanding to come for 45 minutes now...and i've still got nothing. does it cause me to feel even more lonely and isolated? do i want to pretend that i'm not missing out on as much of "the good life" as may be the case? have i done something wrong in all of this? should i have kept it all to myself and maintained this ridiculous myth that parenting is all rainbows and butterfly kisses? maybe it causes me to face my supressed emotions of anger and confusion and resentment of our circumstances? that God would go out of his way to create a miracle in my belly that was never supposed to exist...only to have the miracle be so scary and difficult and lonely and always seemingly at risk of vanishing.

all things considered, i've thought i have done a decent job of weathering it all. of having at least some balance of joy. to not be consumed by it all, to be able to continue to function as at least a close version of myself. so maybe it hurts because i've been kidding myself? that the thought of living a life like mine is THAT horrible sounding to someone else?

now i'm going in circles.

to be clear, THIS IS NOT INTENDED AS A PITY PARTY, OR A SOLLICITATION FOR SYMPATHY. honestly, it's just easier to type it all than to try to write it in some sort of diary.

also, what am i supposed to say in response to such commentary from friends? do i apologize? do i try to convince them otherwise, to promise that their experience as parents would surely be much more simple and delightful? i just don't know how to feel about it, what to say. maybe i just wish there weren't constant reminders that this is not what we signed up for, that we never pictured our lives in this way...that we've struggled to understand or to reconcile all of it. sometimes i'd just like to be BREANNA...a grown up, a girl. a short vacation from all the other titles, all the "how's she doing?" questions. the looks that obviously scream "i'm so glad it's you and not me." the critical and judgemental looks about our decisions. the insincere "if there's anything i can do..." to just BE. to have a day of not being afraid, of wondering what's next, of pleading with God for a break, a quick respite.

writing this has reaffirmed my decision to NOT write. as much as i obviously needed to get it out of much as it's a partial relief to have said it...mostly i wish i wouldn't have acknowledged it at all.

(these are the days it hurts most that there's no family to one to come and parent ME for a few minutes. the times when i go back to the same old stuff with God. stuff that should've been worked out by now. stuff that seems as if it may never get worked out after all. these days i wish for a daddy of my own.)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Thursday, March 26, 2009

i have something to say

Jacob is 7 years old. he has autism, and a myriad of other difficulties. he experiences the world in ways no one else seems to understand. every day, jacob takes these two trash bins, HIS trash bins, and walks them around his neighborhood as many times as he can fit in. he takes them both, never just one. as he walks around the rocky roads, one or the other will regularly tip off to the side. jacob stops, lifts it upright, and continues on his way. never angry or frustrated. he keeps walking. all around the neighborhood, quietly wheeling the bins behind him.

i was spending the afternoon with jacob today as his foster mom needed a break. i can't fully explain why, but this parade of his two bins was incredibly touching to me. to watch him treat them so tenderly, so carefully. as if they were his two children, left solely in his care. he was very committed to getting them out to see the neighborhood, pausing to watch the horses or squirrels or to look at a creek. around and around the neighborhood. after about two hours of walking with him, it began to rain. i'm not sure jacob noticed at all. i let him know we needed to head back to the house until the rain stopped, and offered to take charge of one bin for him. as i wheeled it toward the house, jacob's free hand never left the side of it, as if to be a backup spotter should it topple over. as we approached the driveway, jacob wheeled the bins to their resting place, gently putting each precisely where it belonged. as we walked into the front door, he glanced back, to be sure they were as they should be.

this child is the target of teasing, rejection, namecalling. he is labeled with horrific words like "retarded" and "unreachable." and yet i see in him a level of intimate humanity i've rarely found. there is so much left to learn about autism. so many unanswered questions. countless families who struggle to make it through each day, to find the right help for their children, to try and parent them with love in the midst of being completely burned out.
one thing i'm sure of, though, is that the greatest disservice we could do to these children and ourselves is to ignore them or write them off. for the last six years i've worked directly with foster kids with developmental disabilities like autism. it's sickening the way these children are tossed from one home to another, label after label written into their records. medications shoved into their systems. rarely does anyone spend time with them to see who they are, past the diagnoses, past the outbursts and embarrassing tantrums.

each of these children is, in fact, created by God. and not just by God, but in his very image. they're not the exception to that rule, you know.

later, hours after i'd left jacob, i noticed myself rushing around, trying to get things done just to check them off the list. i remembered the care with which jacob wheeled his bins. that he felt such responsibility for them, and took that seriously. and cliche as it may sound, this "unreachable" child most certainly reached me.