Saturday, October 20, 2012


For the past month or two, we've set aside one day a week as a "no technology" day for the kids. I had gloriously envisioned that as a result, my kids would grow a distaste for television and video games and would spontaneously teach themselves how to whittle, crochet blankets for the needy, and spend hours collaboratively working on an original musical for which they would bedazzle their own costumes and then enthusiastically perform it for me and Mike.

For the most part, these days were going pretty well. As long as I kept them engaged in creative activities, they really didn't need screen time at all. Until last week...

It was our designated "no tech" day. Derek had woken up from an unsatisfying nap which meant the rest of the day would be OFF. Mr. Mark (Marcus' PT) was over our house and for some reason, decided to bring a circus tent full of stuff for Marcus to work on. I don't know how he fit it all in his car, but he brought over 3 exercise balls, 8 step stools, a bag of balls, musical instruments, gooey dough, frisbees, stepping squares, exercise bands, and a parachute to top it off. He also decided that he would use Marcus' drums to motivate him to work extra hard. It must have all been too much for Derek to soak in because while he was ecstatic to join the Cirque du Soleil fun that day, it also sent him into an Incredible Hulk frenzy every 30 seconds or whenever he didn't get what he wanted. Had he turned green and ripped off his shirt, I wouldn't have been surprised. So while trying to get Audrey settled home after school, talking with Mr. Mark about what to work on with Marcus, and trying to tame Derek's tantrums all at the same time, it was getting crazy up in here.

After Mr. Mark left, the boys continued the raucous by fighting (wrestling and screaming and crying) over every little speck of dust. Separating them was futile because there seemed to be a magnetic force drawing them together to duke it out. They battled over the drums, the blocks, and even had a dueling duet on the piano when all of a sudden I heard the piano lid fall on all four hands and saw them screaming in pain, each blaming the other for the cacophony.

I then decided that baking together would calm everyone down and it did for everyone except me. Derek had decided that since I told him not to touch the baking mix, he would obey my wishes and instead, blow it everywhere. Marcus, liking where this was going, thought he would join in. Audrey, my helpful little one, dropped an egg on the floor on accident and although yes, flour everywhere and a dropped egg are no big deal, I was on edge by now and more so because I had been suffering some mysterious allergic reaction for the past day and my face felt like the surface area of the sun, my eyes were swollen and inflamed, and I felt like there were a bunch of microscopic bugs crawling around inside my head and ears.

Apparently, baking was hard work for THEM because after I finally got the pumpkin bread in the oven, they were complaining of horrifying hunger. I set them at the table to wait patiently for a snack. While they groaned of starvation, Derek dropped Marcus' pencil box, scattering all of his beloved school supplies across the floor and along with them, a generous dusting of pencil shavings that spilled out of his sharpener. This spiraled Marcus into a depression too deep for words because all he could do was put his face in his arms and moan. I was trying to peel an apple and console him at the same time, but then he also complained of some discomfort in his butt that needed my immediate attention.

I came to Marcus' aid and Derek had already fled the scene, but made his whereabouts known because he was in the other room, frustrated that he couldn't find all the pieces to his alphabet puzzle and yelling "WHERE C? WHERE C? WHERE C" in a loud, rhythmic manner. Perfect background noise to trying to rescue my other son from depression and butt pain while sitting on pencil shavings.

I somehow revived everyone's will to live and had them coloring at the table while I prepared dinner. Derek decided that throwing the crayons would be a lot more fun and by that time, I was all for it too, as long as it made him happy. I should have known though, that after a few minutes of "good, they're finally quiet", that something was up because Derek had been coloring all over our white walls and to Marcus' detriment, all over the top of his drums.

While I was pretty upset about the walls, Marcus was even more distraught. To top off the drama of the day, he prostrated himself on the floor and wailed, "It's ruined! It's ruined! My drum set is ruined! Waaaahaaahaaaa!"


It was one of those "REALLY?!" moments and when I texted my sister what was happening, she OMGed my story and told me that her kids were quietly watching TV.

Lessons learned:

1. When you notice there is madness in your house,  and your kids don't want to quietly whittle, give them a snack in front of the TV.
2. When you want so bad to scratch out your eyes and there are red scaly patches on your face and you are running low on patience, turn on a DVD.
3. When your children have lost their will to live, pray with them, encourage them, and then give them a lollipop and YouTube.
4. When you need to cook dinner and your children are majorly lacking self-control and are succumbing to emotional rage, give them some discipline, share the Good News of Jesus, and send them off with a Wii remote.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Alive and Kicking

I realize I did some spiritual coasting this summer.  Riding the waves of good sermons and enjoying the calm waters of uneventful days, I think I let my heart settle into the California mindset of hanging loose and enjoying the good weather in this season of life.

But at the tail end of summer, right before the kids started school, a swell came in from the horizon.  I saw Marcus crawling around one day, bumping his head on different things.  It wasn't anything new, but this time, he was obviously distraught, burying his head in his arms and crying out, "Mommy, It's so hard.  I don't know how to see." 

I couldn't sleep that night.  We are on high alert whenever Marcus indicates anything regarding his vision, so I cried and prayed all night, begging God to guard what little vision Marcus has, even though the doctors say his retinal degeneration is inevitable.  I feared it was the beginning of my son losing his eyesight, adding another layer of pain to the challenges he already faces.

As He usually does in times of despair, the Lord led me to Psalm 34, drawing my attention specifically to verses 19-20.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.

When I read this passage years ago when Marcus was first diagnosed, I didn't have faith that God would follow through with this deliver us from our afflictions.  I thought the only way God would do that was by healing Marcus from his condition.  But this time, I read it with a clearer understanding.  God doesn't promise to take away our afflictions, but He promises to deliver us from them by protecting us in the midst of them.  When I read it this time, I felt my eyes were opened to the truth that the way God shows us His love isn't necessarily by taking AWAY our pain, but by loving us IN our pain.  Not one of my bones will be broken in hardship, He says. 

By God's grace, I noticed my heart had grown a little from a few years back.  I woke up from that restless night's sleep with thanksgiving, that God would give me a spiritual love-pinch, a poke in my rib to make sure I was alive and not just a dead weight coasting along.  After probing Marcus more about it the next morning, he clarified that his vision wasn't changing, but sometimes it bothered him more than usual and that sometimes it was "hard to see".  I asked him if he was sad or okay and he assured me that he was alright.  (By the way, we are SO thankful that Marcus can even verbally communicate all this.  It is a huge deal and we in no way take this for granted.)  So yes, I was thankful that God would use this vision episode not as a code red for Marcus, but as a spiritual defibrillator for me, giving me a good hearty slap in the toosh to make sure I wasn't sleeping my way through the path of following Christ.

Since then, He's allowed for more opportunities for our faith to be stretched.  For example, Marcus took a fall at school recently, cried on a different day because he was scared, and today he told his aide at school that he never ever wants to go back to kindergarten again.  But through the various hurdles, He's also given us some precious truths to hold onto.

Matthew 5:3

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

1 Peter 1:6-7

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ

I could go into a long boring commentary on how these passages have taken a hold of me, but in summary:  I love how different afflictions big and small can bring my heart to life by drawing from the Words of Life.  They remind me that though it can be comfortable to just happily float along day by day, there is far more joy in desperately clinging onto Him who helps me persevere toward a great and glorious Day.

I've said it many times before, but goodness, do I thank God for our dear Marcus.  How I greatly rejoice.  My heart is alive and well.

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