Friday, February 24, 2017

Not having an answer

I think the hardest part of all of this is not having an answer.

I know people mean well when they say (about Luke) "Well, at least it's not life-threatening."
Or, "he seems to be handling it ok."

I'm not.

I just want an answer and no one seems to have one. To have to leave disappointed every time we leave an appointment, to hear the same words, "This is very unusual. I've never seen this before."

I just want an answer. Why is it so hard for people to understand that sadness and even fear of having no answer?

An answer gives you solid ground, a clue where to go next. It's the answer to the problem. With no answer I continue to live with this problem. Why don't people don't understand that?

I have to disappear for a while; I have to, because my feelings are so raw that the very smallest gesture hurts. All I want to do is just unplug and pull everything off my wall, throw all electronics away, put a crucifix on my wall and stay there until I get my answer.

No more brave words for people. This is just where I'm at.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Max's prayers always get answers

Yep, it seems that God answers Max's prayers in special ways. He has rather gotten spoiled by it, I think. The other day he was complaining that God doesn't answer his prayers anymore. He had prayed for Luke, and he still wasn't better. He prayed to get Kane, and he didn't get him either. (I will explain who Kane is in a minute.)

But as I explained to Max, God isn't our personal genie. He doesn't work for us, we work for Him. And He answers all prayers, but doesn't necessarily give us what we want, but does what is best for us.

Still, I understand the discouragement. I have been feeling it myself with Luke. Still not better, still has his tic. I just feel that I am forever waiting for appointments so that we can get to the treatment. I have never been through anything so hard, emotionally, except for maybe my heart attack. As strange as it may sound--a tic being compared to a heart attack--it has been that hard. Simply because it is my child who is suffering, and I can't do a thing to stop it. It's a terrible feeling.

I know that God was listening in our conversation and He already knew what was going on in Max's heart. I had been sensing it in the past few weeks; something different about Max regarding his spiritual life. I asked him if he was mad at God, and I'm glad he opened up to me about his doubts.

About Kane. He is a dog that we have been fostering through the dog boarding Veterinarian clinic we volunteer at. He was brought in a few weeks back by someone who found him wandering around a highway. No one claimed him, so now he belongs to the clinic.

Max and I played with Kane for the few days that he was there, and we both knew he would not last long, but would be adopted soon. Max begged that we adopt him; we stood firm and told him no. It was true that Kane was a great dog, but the thought of a second dog wasn't appealing to either me or Dennis. Despite this, Max would pray (out loud, so we could hear him), that we would adopt Kane one day, and me and Dennis would just look at each other and roll our eyes.

And then we arrived at the clinic one day, and they told us that Kane had been adopted. I looked quickly at Max's face, and he was good about putting a smile on his face and nodding his head that it was good that Kane found a home. But I could see the sadness, and of course, it made me sad for him.

I had thought that Max had forgotten about Kane over the next couple weeks that followed, but every so often, he brought up that he missed Kane. He even continued to pray that "Kane would come back to us", which surprised me. Hadn't he accepted that Kane was gone? I figured he would soon forget about Kane, and it seemed that he did, except that every so often, he would sigh and say that he missed Kane.

I had no idea that Max was doubting God at the time, or wondering why He hadn't answered His prayers in the way he wanted. But isn't it consoling to see that, what we don't know, God does? What we don't see festering in our children's hearts, He sees! And He takes out what He doesn't want, or reveals to us--the parents--what needs to be shown.

And so it was the day before Kane came back, that Max admitted to me his deep disappointment and confusion over God not giving him what he prayed for for so long. And as I said, we talked about it and I felt like Max accepted God's answer. That was Sunday.

On Monday, we went to the clinic as usual, and the receptionist greeted us with, "Guess who's back?"
I almost dreaded hearing the answer, worried that one of the tougher dogs were back in the boarding kennels.

"Kane is back!" She said. I looked at Max almost with dread. I knew that he would expect that this was his answer to prayer.

Kane had been returned due to not getting along with the owners cat. Having a strong prey drive (he is a Lab), he went after the cat one day, and somehow, the owners other dog got into it as well. Things got out of control, and the owner decided to return Kane.

Max was thrilled to see Kane, and Kane seemed happy to see us. And as I knew would happen, the moment we were alone, Max said excitedly, "Kane is back! God answered my prayer! We're supposed to have him!"

I already knew that the answer was still no, that we couldn't afford another dog, couldn't afford the care of another one, not to mention one so big. But, it was difficult seeing Kane there. He had finally had a taste of freedom and time in a home, and he was so sad to be back in a kennel. That is when a strange idea began to form in my head...

And so we are fostering Kane. He has fit in with the family so much better than I thought he would, and everyone loves him. Everyone, but Joey. But he is slowly getting used to him. It may take a while though.

Yet, oddly enough, it is the person who was so adamantly against adopting Kane who has fallen in love with him and is talking about the possibility of adopting him. Dennis has always wanted a big hunting dog, and it seems he's found one in Kane. Those two are inseparable; wherever Dennis is, Kane is. And if Dennis leaves, Kane goes from room to room, looking for him.

He is great with the kids. Very affectionate, but not overly so. Very respectful of Joey, which I appreciate, though Joey doesn't. "Calm and balanced", as Cesar would say. Keeps his head respectfully bowed down low around Joey, keeps his tail wagging at a low angle. Does not push Joey to be friendly. Yet, loves his love from us. Yes, Kane is practically the perfect dog; except for the drool and that he seems to think he's allowed on the furniture. (He's not, but he's pretty tough to push off.)

Max's prayer seems to be answered. He prayed for the impossible to be possible: that Kane would come back to him, even when he already belonged to somebody else.

I don't yet know for sure if we will adopt Kane. It still seems a little too soon. But watching Dennis and Kane, I can't imagine Dennis letting him go. Watching the kids around Kane, and how gentle Kane is with the kids, it is difficult to let him go to another family. And watching Joey wrestle with his insecurities, and how Kane is so patient with him, is actually really inspiring to how I would like to be to others who try my patience.

More than that, all of this reminds me to not give up on God with Luke. I think this was the biggest message for me. At this time, it feels like God hasn't heard my prayer. It is such an easy thing to fix--this tic--and yet, He hasn't. I have been having a hard time trusting Him because of that.

But I will pray for the impossible to be possible. Like Max, I will keep praying that my prayer will be answered.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Kitchen cabinets

Almost done with the kitchen cabinet project. It's looking great.

Photo bomb by Dennis

There is talk about adding a fifth bedroom to the basement downstairs. Just talk right now, as we don't have funds to do it. But I'm thinking it may need to be done soon.

Monday, February 13, 2017

A Google search: Why can't I trust God??

I'm making good progress with the kitchen cabinets. I wish I had a picture to show you, but I lost my camera. Already our kitchen feels bigger, brighter and cleaner.

Luke is heading back to school for a few short hours today. He still has "the thing", as we call it. I was hoping to have it fixed before he goes back to school but we are pushing on three weeks now. And though Luke doesn't want to go back, we both need some normalcy back in our lives. He asks what if kids tease him at school? The teachers have talked to the kids about it but we both know that there is no guarantee that there will be no teasing. Some kids just have it in them to tease. But we have to practice trust in people too.

Speaking of trust, it dawned on me this morning (no pun intended, haha), that all of this ironically happened after my big revelation that I don't trust God enough. Or perhaps, not at all, though I do try.

But yes, I remember Luke had just started his sickness--the cold and cough--that day when I went to confession to Fr.Gregory and we talked about trust. As I had said before, a lot more was revealed to me that day that I haven't shared. Personal things, that you would have no interest in. I remember when all this was revealed, Fr.Gregory looked at me and said very seriously, "You have some work to do." I actually got a little scared when he said that, because I knew it was true.

I took the little book that he gave me about wounds and read about trust. I asked God sincerely in that moment to help learn to trust Him.

It was a few days later that this "thing" happened and I began to worry. Another week went by with no improvement and I began to feel alarmed. A few more days, and pure panic that this would always be with him, and this panic hasn't left me, not for a moment. I go to sleep with it, I wake up with it. I am up often in the night, thinking and praying. I have taken moments for some serious crying, just trying to get this emotion out of me, trying to regain some sanity, and for a short while, I have relief. But it all comes back when I hear that tic.

This morning I woke up at 4 and couldn't get back to sleep. Worried about sending him to school, worried he would be teased. Just panicked, as usual. I tried to pray, tried to trust, tried to give it all to Him. I couldn't get any relief.

It's in those moments when I wonder where God is. When I'm trying to trust and I feel like He's not giving me what I need. I feel so confused in those moments; like I'm missing something. I know and trust that God is not a heartless God, that He loves me and loves Luke. So what am I missing? What is He trying to tell me?

Well, when all else fails and you can't get answers, I Google it. Yes, even on trust. I Googled "I can't trust God" and found an amazing article.

I hope you will read it. I experienced much consolation from it. Written by a nun who was under persecution for her faith, she wrote this letter to her sisters in code. It's been decoded and published for the rest of us who have problems with worry and trust to read.

A little excerpt:

As you try to see all things as coming from the hand of God, adore His designs. I would like to see you have more trust in Divine Providence. Otherwise, you will be suffering many disappointments and your projects will meet with failure. Trust, my child, only in God. Everything human is changeable and the one who is for you today will be against you tomorrow. You see how good our God is! We should have more confidence in Him every day and have recourse to prayer, not permitting anything to discourage us or make us sad. He has given me so much confidence in His Divine Will that I leave everything in His hands and I am at peace.

I think my fears have been displaced. Somehow, somewhere in my life, I started to hold God responsible for all the hurts I experienced. Unknowingly blaming Him for not protecting me and not being able to trust Him.

I haven't understood fully that it's the effects of sin that cause us suffering, not God. I know it in my head but have to remind myself often in my moments of distrust. To somehow gain some footing that God may allow suffering for our greater good, but He doesn't relish in our suffering.

In Luke's suffering somehow I am growing. I thank God that the suffering Luke is experiencing is a temporary thing. That it's not something like cancer. God has given us something little to suffer from. That is proof that He knows what I can handle (which apparently is not much!)

Read the letter and relish it. You won't be sorry.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

A good lesson for me

When Jesus suffered His agony in the garden, no one understood His pain. His friends, who loved Him deeply, and were grieved to see Him in agony, couldn't even stay awake to comfort Him. Three times He came back for comfort, and three times His friends failed Him.

This gives me insight about the frailty of human beings and how limited we are in our well intended words to be there for one another. It even gives me comfort. I guess God already knew, that even though He put three human beings only a stones throw away to be there for His Son, that they wouldn't be able to give Him the comfort He needed. Yet, He allowed Him to experience this anyway.

It gives me comfort to understand those who can't always relieve me of my pain. Who say they will, but forget, or unintentionally add to it. It even gives me comfort to excuse myself when I find myself helpless to help Luke, who continues to struggle with this tic; helpless to even get him to sleep at night.

I know that Jesus knew what to do, but, as shown so often in the Gospels for our benefit, He allowed Himself to be deprived of human comfort, even though He told His friends that "My soul was sorrowful even unto death, stay and watch with Me." (Matthew 26:28)

Maybe we aren't here to comfort each other or relieve one another's pain. Maybe we're here just to simply show the effort. To sit and "watch" with one another. Just to make the journey with them. Even St.Theresa of Calcutta understood her human limitations and didn't try to save anyone; but to be their companion in their last hours. I believe that is all we are called to do--and to do it well.

So my thoughts go further: once Jesus found no one to comfort Him, where did He turn?

This is how bad things turn into something good; when we find God in our darkness. The anger and disappointment over others leave, and understanding of self (and others) come in. Forgiveness comes next. Dependency on God deepens, and suddenly, you feel the strength to go on.

This is why the saints had the humility to thank God for trials; they knew that as painful and hard as they were, they needed them.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

What if they forget to pray?

Most of you know already that Luke has been dealing with this nerve/tic/cough (we still don't know exactly what to call it), for almost two weeks now. While the cough in itself is no more than a "keh-keh", it is a constant thing, giving him a nauseated feeling in his stomach which makes it hard to eat and sleep.

I tried imitating Luke's little cough (in the privacy of my room, of course), and I couldn't do it for more than two minutes. It was tiring, nauseating and left me breathless. It's hard to imagine what it must be like to deal with it for eleven days now.

For myself, as a mother, I worry. On the one hand, I'm trying hard to stay rational about this, not get carried away with fears and emotions. But I battle them pretty much as often as Luke's tic. My fears are with me all the time. I find myself watching him closely, wondering: "Wait--did he stop there for a minute? I think he stopped!" Only to be disappointed. Or I spy on him, wondering if this isn't perhaps forced. I've never been able to catch him without the tic. I can even hear him through the vents when he's downstairs playing and I'm upstairs.

This won't be permanent--or at least, that's what I'm told. I pray they (the doctors) are right. I pray this will be handled in due time with meds. I pray we won't need to resort to procedures or surgeries.

It's given me a little glimpse of what parents of chronically ill children go through. I am thankful that a tic is not life-threatening. But it is life-changing. It's changed our life in these past two weeks, not being able to go to school because it wears him out so much. Not even being able to sit in a pew at church, because we don't want to get "looks" of annoyance from others. Not being able to send Luke out to play, because I know it will make his cough worse. It's been really hard.

Luke asked me yesterday, "What if people forget to pray for me?" I assured him that they wouldn't. But he persisted, convinced that people weren't praying. In his mind, if prayers aren't being answered, therefore, people must not be praying.

I know that people are praying. But, would you mind praying just a little bit more? Just so life can get back to normal. So Luke can go back to school and regain his color, regain his energy, regain his appetite.

It's been so hard to watch him go through this.

Little Improvements: The Love Seat

Along with our craigslist couch, we have added on a loveseat that our neighbor gave us for free. Isn't that great?!

I love the loveseat in itself; it's so cute and original. But when I saw it sitting in our living room, somehow, things didn't match up. I couldn't put my finger on it. Was it just because I wasn't used to seeing a love seat in our living room? I wasn't sure.

I finally realized that the coloring of the love seat didn't go with the coloring of the rest of our furniture, which is a darker brown. So you know what I did--I stained! (You thought I was going to say paint, didn't you?)

One thing I will say about stain--it's cheaper than paint and easier to do! I did three coats in a jiffy with a paper towel and that's it.

It blends in much better with our furniture now. I may reupholster down the road, if I am brave enough.