Tuesday, August 1, 2017

An Unexpected Hiatus

DisneyAfter an unexpected hiatus, I’m back! I planned to be a little hit or miss while vacationing at Disney, little did I realize the blogging break would end up being much longer.

We had a wonderful trip to Disney, but it wasn’t without its challenges. I was reminded, quite frequently, something I already know so well. Children (people in general, actually) thrive on structure. Even as planned out as the week was, the structure our daily lives resemble, looks nothing like the craziness a week of vacation tends to bring. That said, the kiddos were in awe of Disney and all it brings. We had many unexpected surprises along the way, and the cast mates (Disney staff) went out of their way for our family. Even so, by the end of each day…I had nothing left. It took it all out of me, and then some.

As soon as we arrived home, we stepped into high speed preparing for the next adventure. My children are currently spending this week with some dear friends of mine in Savannah, GA. Lorie and her husband, Duane, are seasoned adoptive parents, and they also have six biological children. The age range of their children is very similar to mine. She offered this week of respite to me several months ago, and I happily accepted her offer.

Respite from my 24/7 parental responsibilities is something I crave. Joel and I shared our parenting duties well, but as soon as He went Home to Heaven, it all fell on me. It’s been emotionally very difficult to be “on” all the time for the children and try to grieve the way my heart needs to at times. Therefore, this gift of respite was huge, but little did I realize how huge.

Last Monday (the day after my children went to Savannah), I had a scheduled inpatient surgical procedure. I was so glad the kiddos were well taken care of during my 1-2 night planned hospital stay. One less worry. However, my hospital stay turned into four nights, and I almost had to spend a fifth night.

Without going into all the details, I had stomach surgery. The surgery itself was very successful (sounds familiar…oh yes…I said similar words after Joel’s surgery in February), but the post-surgery recovery brought a few challenges…my blood pressure kept dropping, I ran a low grade fever, my resting heart rate was higher than normal, and my oxygen saturation rates were too low. In addition to that, I have a bruise along my abdomen that reaches out to my side and almost to my back that is U.G.L.Y. I bruise easily anyway, but I’ve never had anything like this before. It was a showcase piece for all kinds of hospital staff to view. Nobody could believe it until they laid eyes on it. The bruise was actually the lesser of the evils, but it brought the biggest reaction.

The other problems I kept exhibiting led to many tests to rule out the biggies (i.e. blood clots, tumors), and I’m thankful I had a surgeon willing to be so thorough with me. It probably didn’t hurt they all knew Joel’s story and wanted to avoid a repeat with me. They did well. I really am very pleased. I’m just slowly regaining strength to do much of anything.

It’s hard being “down” all the time. You would think I would have learned that lesson after my foot surgeries this spring. I’m just wired to be on all the time it seems. God, in His abundant mercy, is patiently teaching me about rest. Something I need and crave, but seldom take. This blog hiatus was just one piece of the puzzle, but apparently I needed it too. Thank you for patience as I get “back in the saddle again”.

One more thing… With August now here, I face another difficult “first” later this month. Our anniversary. I covet your prayers, in advance of that day (25th), as my heart is already hurting thinking of another missed celebration with my love.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

I found sleep again

Joel and I used to crave sleep…well, rest in general. We worked our fannies off all week, and while weekends should include a day of rest, we often found ourselves packing our weekends so full of activity we’d look forward to the start of a new work week…just to find some “rest” again.

Shamefully, I admit I often operated on only 4-5 hours of sleep each night (and Joel often even less than that). We we were tormenting our bodies, at least in the category of rest, and we kept feeling pushed to stop the madness…and soon. However, the bad habits continued. With both of us working full-time jobs, the only time we had to ourselves to get anything done was after the children went to bed at night, so we often got re-energized at just the time we should have started unwinding for the day. These bad habits we created ended up training our bodies to keep up with the madness of our crazy lifestyle. Not good, and we knew it, but nothing stopped us at that point.

After Joel went home to Heaven, I initially struggled to sleep. I would close my eyes, and my mind would race with thoughts of him, the days and minutes leading up to his final breath, all the tasks that lay before me in the near future, all those goals we’d never achieve, and the list is endless. I couldn’t stop thinking about him, so it was very difficult to “shut off” my brain long enough to rest.

Joel actually passed away soon after midnight on February 12. I stayed at the hospital for several more hours and eventually arrived back home somewhere between 3:30-4:00 am. That was my first attempt at trying to get a few hours of sleep. But, I failed. My mind knew I would be sharing with our children soon after they woke up that daddy went to live with Jesus. I kept replaying that scene over and over in my mind, and it literally broke my heart to think of how they might respond. As a result, I literally laid in our bed, tossing and turning without my husband beside me, waiting for daybreak or the sound of those little voices coming to greet me at the start of the new day.

After I was trampled with lots of mommy loves…hugs and kisses…I gathered my little chicks around me and shared the most difficult words I’ve ever had to share with them. The bad news: Daddy died. His frail body couldn’t overcome the sickness that took over. The best news: Daddy is in Heaven with Jesus and will one day see us again! My children clung to the “best news” I shared with them that morning. Daddy was with Jesus, and they would get to be with him again one day. Praise God for that gift! Since that initial conversation, they’ve struggled off and on, but they keep going back to that promise…because of a decision Daddy made when he was alive on this earth, he gets to live forever with Jesus in Heaven. And…as long as we’ve made that same decision, Heaven will be our forever Home too!

Within a few hours of that conversation, I fell asleep in the recliner in my living room. And…I slept HARD. It was as if all the emotional burnout had been spent, and it was time for my body to rest. I slept so hard I never even heard all the guests coming in and out of my home that Sunday afternoon to visit. Thankfully, they didn’t mind the sleeping widow in the corner of the room. Eventually I woke up, but I have discovered since that initial rest (the one in which I actually slept) following Joel’s Homegoing, that I sleep quite a bit now and a lot more often.

In part, the medication I’ve been on after each of my three foot surgeries in March helped to make me sleepy, but I also noticed, I gave up the fight. I no longer had the physical ability to stay up until all crazy hours of the night trying to get things done. I can only do so much, then it’s time to stop. Sleep soon follows. I only wish Joel and I discovered this “rest dance” before he left this world. I can only imagine how much more fulfilling our life could have been together and how much more God would have allowed us to accomplish.

My new routine…sleep, and when I wake, I seek the Lord for His next steps for me. It’s amazing how He has it all under control…when I seek Him first and OBEY His direction.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33 (emphasis mine)