Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Hurried to Sleep

A friend Shannon has started a new blog over at Life Prompted. Each week she writes and responds to a writing prompt and invites us to join her. I'll be playing catch up for a while, but hope to use her discipline to breathe some new life into my own writing...

Hurried to sleep

I can not remember a time in my life I did not hurry. Even as a child teachers constantly told me and my parents that I just needed to slow down or take my time. My oldest son was diagnosed fairly early with ADHD. While some corners of the internet like to pretend this is a myth diagnosis and I'm just failing at motherhood somehow and should probably just feed him differently, I know from my own life experience that Hurry is more than a choice sometimes. Hurry is a state of mind. Hurry is a chemical imbalance in our brains.

 Do you hear music while you have a conversation with a friend- while at the same time seeing colors and remembering what you wore to the eigth grade dance and wondering if your husband has the right socks in his bag to match his shoes? I do. Does this Ally Mcbeal life soundtrack follow you to bed? Im very aware of my sleeping thoughts, maybe because they aren't sleeping. I wake up hearing music, and remembering conversations from my dreams which are in vivid color and full of all senses. My dreams feel real and my sleep monitor on my fitbit has shown me that half the time I think I'm asleep, my body is actually restless. Even in my sleep, I hurry.

My pastor shared last week about the need for rest as a spiritual practice. He reminded us how Jesus took time to rest in order to prepare for his ministry. We must also rest. God commands it. I left the sermon somewhat frustrated. I WANT to rest. Sleep especially frustrates me. I WANT to sleep.
The beginning of Lent coincided with my realization that I was not sleeping. So as part of Lent practice, I decided to give up as much caffeine as possible, leaving me a sore headed zombie most days. The more I tried to sleep the less I did.

Everything hit a low point Sunday night. We've had sick kids rotating through a stomach bug for the last week. We've seen worse, but a groaning child on the couch does not encourage sleeping mothers. My second born was taking his turn, and my husband was heading out to a job site Monday morning. His wake up call would come at 1:30 am. I went to bed around 9:30. At 3:30 I was still staring at the clock. This was unusual even for me. Wide awake, 3:30. I was so hurried for sleep that I could not sleep.

I don't think I have a solution for this yet. Clearly. Last night I went to bed at 9:30 with a little help from my "sleep supplements". While I don't really remember waking my fitbit says I was restless 20 times for a total of 5 hrs 26 minutes asleep, and 4 hours 7 minutes restless/awake.

The only answer I have for myself is Grace. I've changed my diet, drastically cut out caffeine and am trying to limit screen exposure in the evenings. We recently changed our bedroom from a nonfunctional purple to a calm and soothing blue. My bed feels like a spa. There is nothing left to change. I simply can not hurry myself into rest. I'm only pushing myself deeper into anxiety and further away from my goal.

In psalm 4, the psalmist writes about the people frustrating him by worshiping false gods. He says in vs 4, to the people "Tremble and do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be SILENT." How often do I instead search my heart and find noise? Noise of anxiety, noise of discontentment. Noise from ADHD. Then in verse 8 he says "I will both lie down and sleep, for you alone oh Lord make me dwell in safety." This last verse is one I know by heart and my boys repeat as "I will lie down and sleep for you God keep me safe". When they are afraid of storms or nightmares we repeat it until they can sleep again. I never noticed the connection to verse 4 before. The psalmist is comparing his confidence in his sleep to the discontented hearts of the people. Verse 6 he works out that "Many LORD are asking, "Who will bring us prosperity? Let the light of your face shine on us. Fill my heart with joy when THEIR grain and new wine abound." I could rewrite this as "Who or what will bring Emily sleep? Shine your light on us and fill my heart with joy when Emily closes her eyes and rests until she needs no more rest." Could sleep be as simple as laying down our current burden and expecting God to provide? Could sleep for me come simply by expecting God to eventually provide it and resting in his goodness until he does?

So today I will rest, but in a different way than I've been trying (and I don't mean by abandoning the melatonin or drinking a giant coffee with my dinner). I'm going to clean my kitchen, deep clean the tile like I've been meaning to for weeks and be thankful for a home. I'm going to finish the laundry mountain and be grateful for dressed children and cute fashions. I'm going to take a walk with the kids after dinner, and read them a chapter from their current read aloud before bed and see them for the gifts they are. I will read today's scripture from my bible in a year, even if I've missed the last six, and  I will choose not to carry anger at myself for not sleeping but instead repent for trying to hurry to make it happen on my own.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


Somehow we've made it. One whole year since the incredible day (in a series of long hard days) that changed everything. The day we took legal custody and physical possession of our baby girl. In the adoption world, "gotcha day" can mean a hundred different things due to the hundreds of ways children come into their forever families. The range of emotions can vary from celebration and parties, like a birthday, to hushed grieving and silent recognition. Every adoption is born out of loss. Even when all choices are positive, there is still a loss. I say this because in our family there are multiple figures in our sweet Sarah's life who won't remember today with the joy that we do. For her birth mother,  it was a final goodbye to regular visits because we live across the country. For her aunt and uncle and cousins who fostered her for her first ten months,  it is a day they lost a loved daughter and sister as she became niece and cousin. We know that there is pain there and don't celebrate without recognizing that Sarah too had to grieve those relationships in those specific forms. Her routine and schedule and home all changed on that day while my very dreams came true. While my heart was completed, theirs took a bit of a hit. I'm grateful that Sarah's foster journey was able to keep her with family. I'll never be able to express the gratitude I feel that my sister and brother in law were able to foster her while we worked tirelessly to get our home study and legal nonsense done and bring her home. She will always be able to have a relationship with them, and with her beautiful birth mother and biological brother as well as cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents. I have so many friends in the adoption community who don't have knowledge of their child's early life or a connection to their birth family now. Friends who have children who grieve birth families that fell apart, or foster families, nannies or a culture they left on the other side of the world. We have to acknowledge that. Our kids deserve their hurts to be recognized. Even in the midst of our shout from the rooftop joy. So for us, gotcha day is about Sarah's 37 weeks in the womb of a mother who fought for her, who tried tirelessly to do everything she could to be the best mother she could. It is Sarah's first ten months, loved by a family that knew she would one day leave but did not treat her as so. And her gotcha day is that incredible day that we claimed her as our own. A day that all the waiting ended. We left her foster home mid-morning that cold Monday and immediately stopped at Target. I needed a moment to process  before we started a long day, so we walked around Target, bought a baby car mirror and just stared at her. For the first time we could legally take her anywhere we wanted. Then we had a quiet lunch with her birth mom and hit the road. I think I found reasons to stop at two more Targets before we got from Saint Paul to somewhere in Iowa. We had dinner at a Buffalo Wild Wings and told every person we could that this is our daughter. She's going home today. We ended up getting a horrible Norovirus that night but she slept like a champ. Our second day of travel was delayed, but got us south of Kansas City. And then around 4:00 on Christmas Eve eve we pulled into our driveway. To greet her we had decorated a tree in our front yard with pink lights. Pink like her sweet cheeks and the tutus and all the precious baby girl dreams we had dreamed for so very long. We wanted everyone who drove by to know that our daughter had come home! So this year to celebrate today we strung those same lights on the mantle and chalk board. Her lights. Our favorite Christmas gift a year older.

Happy gotcha day sweet girl. We honor today all of the people who love you, and joyfully remind you of how very much you are wanted here. Forever, Mama

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Glory above, Glory below

Seasonal Affective Disorder. It's real y'all. Usually it gets called the winter blues. People in cold climates start running low on vitamin d and sunshine and being warm and develop depression related specifically to the weather. A little sunshine and voila. All better. The opposite can be true though too. Even though I'm not exactly an outdoorsman ( stop laughing. Seriously, I hear you) I DO enjoy outside time. I love feeling a breeze on my face and hearing little nature sounds. I grew up in Wyoming and Colorado and returned to Colorado for college. There is nothing better than lying on Colorado grass in early fall when the cool wind starts blowing. In September. The past few weeks here in Tejas have been HOT. And now that the pool is closed, kids are in school and friends have scattered to the non existent wind... My SAD kicks in. I MISS mountains and trips to Estes park and cherry cider from the cherry store on the way. I miss old town and coffee from the Northern. I miss martini nights on Linden and the intramural fields on campus at night and the oval and aspen. I ache to have a VIEW. By yesterday I hit my low. I stayed in bed most of the day. I ate more than one drumstick. (The frozen kind dipped in chocolate...)  I made my husband cook dinner. I pouted. I whined. I moped. I cried. Weather channel promises that in ten days it MIGHT get down to 69. Our high might be 89.  There might be a little rain. So when I woke up today I was determined to change focus. How to survive the next two weeks? We used to always plan a beach trip for Labor Day weekend around Lucas' birthday. That won't work this year so I looked up a few short drive away destinations and found it : innerspace caverns in Georgetown Texas. A quick two hour drive away. We poured some iced coffee, loaded up the kids and were off. We got to Georgetown at lunchtime and so we stopped at an adorable place called Monument Cafe. They have somehow captured the FEEL of a historic restaurant but without feeling pretentious like some do. The food is somewhat farm to table with local suppliers and local roasted fair trade  coffee. Breakfast all day. Pies to drool over. Biscuits while you wait.  Bacon vinaigrette on your fried chicken salad.  Get my drift? Eat it all. The boys were wowed by the ambiance and limes in their water. 

After lunch we drove the two minutes to the cavern, which is right in town and just off the highway. That surprised me until we learned that the cave was discovered when they drilled core samples before putting in the highway in the late 60's. The tour takes about an hour but ours went a little long because someone got a little fainty. It was WARM at 72 and 80% humidity with very little ventilation to protect the living cave, but the dark felt amazing. It was like stepping into another world for a little while and was definitely what this summer worn mama needed. The kids were full of wows and thank yous and hugs. And so was I. Our creator covered it all y'all. What we see above the ground and what we would only see below when we built roads.
These secret caverns, full of beauty and mystery and life. Life we can not contribute a single thing to and only damage should we try. It is His beauty. Just like our lives, they exist for His glory, but often we wall ourselves up. Caverns hidden under the ground. 
Maybe we are waiting for the next job, the next baby, the next class, the next project, the next season.  What if our tough days are just God drilling core samples?
Just God revealing our hidden caverns and the glory he is growing there like living stalactite and stalagmites. 
What if our frustration and resentment are just stone barriers he is slowly whittling into beautiful formations to show off his glory? What if pools of refreshment lie just beneath the darkness of our self pity, ready to be illuminated by his truth?
I still miss Colorado. And I still hate Texas in September. But October is coming... And until then I'll remember that glory lies beneath as well as above. And joy. Joy always comes in the morning.