Grit

“Grit”.  You find it after a fire.  The fine impurities that coat everything and hide the beauty beneath.  It takes a good cleaning to remove it.  Sometimes you have to scrub hard, and sometimes it just takes a gentle washing.  It depends on the fire. 

As human beings living in a fallen world, we walk through the fire.  Sometimes it is a small fire and we come through just needing a gentle touch to put us back on track.  Sometimes, the fire destroys everything in it’s path, leaving us to wonder if we will ever be able to wash away the grit that covers our souls and see the beauty again. 

“Grit’.  Strength of character.  Reaching into the very depth of your soul, underneath the black, fine, angry residue that hides the beauty within.  Walking through the fire, and coming out stronger on the other side.  Finding life after the pain.

One bite at a time.

“How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time”. 

My poor husband.  Sometimes I wonder if he knew 25 years ago what a mess of a wife he was getting.  For instance, today, I got my finger stuck in a potato masher.  Seriously.  Who does that?  Our house usually looks like an army has just camped here and left in a hurry.  With three dogs and three kids (four, actually, but one has escaped) keeping it picked up…and de-furred…is a never ending battle.  That I’m usually losing.  Which is unfortunate, because Sweet Hubby and I both get nervous if the house is a mess.  I make a concerted effort to keep up with the laundry, but unless the maid has been here someone is usually out of socks.  And cooking.  Oh goodness.  I hate cooking.  This is a problem, because Sweet Hubby and the children get disagreeable if they aren’t fed regularly.  In my defense (There has to be a defense.  You didn’t think I was going to go quietly…did you?)  I have Fibromyalgia…and I work full time…and I’m a full time student…and Sweet Hubby and the kids need fed and clothed and applauded and all of that other mom stuff…cooking is usually at the bottom of my priority list.

I’ve been thinking (I think a lot.  Just don’t have the energy to act on the thinking) and I decided that over this four-day weekend, I was going to get some major cooking done, and put stuff in the freezer, so that during the week when I’m exhausted, I can still put a decent meal on the table.  The problem with Fibro–or one of them, anyway–is that you get this “brain fog” that clouds your judgement.  For example, I decided to get some meals in the freezer.  Four chickens, three beef roasts, a pork roast, homemade refried beans and a BOATLOAD of produce later…  It sounds good, but when you consider that I only have about 4 hours of productivity a day, I’m now up to my elbows in all of this food, and I’m exhausted.  NORMAL people (anyone without Fibro-head) would cook a couple of chickens, OR a roast, OR decide to try refried beans for the first time…but not everything in one weekend.  The other problem with Fibro is that when the brain fog kicks in, it’s sort of like ADHD on steroids.  I can’t pay attention to ANYTHING for more than a couple of minutes before my brain wanders.  Sometimes my body goes with it, and I wake up three hours later wondering how I went from making chili to painting the bedroom.  Which I can’t finish because the repetitive motion makes my elbows freeze, and then Sweet Hubby has to come and finish the job, which he doesn’t have time to do, and he HATES painting anyway…you see the problem.  And yes, that really happened.

I wish, during my more lucid moments, that “Rational Me” could make “Fibro Me” understand that I need to do things in little chunks.  Unfortunately, my lucid moments are short-lived.  Sweet Hubby can talk me out of my insanity, but he doesn’t always see the “Fibro head” kicking in, and when it takes him by surprise he just ends up shaking his head a lot.  Sometimes, depending on what the week has looked like, the poor guy closely resembles a bobble-head doll.

These are things that they don’t tell you in marriage counseling.  They discuss things like money and communication, which are all valid points, but shouldn’t someone have the guts to look at the guy and say “Now.  What are you going to do if your wife suddenly develops some random auto-immune disorder in which she doesn’t really look sick, but she completely loses her MIND on a semi-regular basis and changes the color of the bedroom twelve times in one week and gets her fingers stuck in odd kitchen appliances”?

I should really have come with a disclaimer.  Or at least a money-back guarantee.

Posted in Me

Thoughts

I changed the name of my blog.  We’ve had a lot of conversations around here lately about figuring out who we are.  By “we”, I mean me and my girls.  Men don’t worry about these things.  Or at least the men in my house don’t.  We love them anyway.  We women worry about these things.  I was 42 before I decided to try and figure me out.  I spent a very long time being everyone’s version of me…and I didn’t know my own version of me.  I don’t want my girls to do that.  I want them to know their worth in Christ now, and I want them to let that guide them as they venture out into the world.  For that reason, I could no longer be “A Missionary of No Importance”.  Because if they are going to believe that they’re important…I need to believe that I’m important.

Posted in Me

Being Patrick’s Mama

If you’ve been around for longer than…say…five minutes…you know who Patrick is.  You know that he’s our little black-eyed P.  Patches.  Patch.  Little boy with a smile that can light up a room and a giggle that makes you want to laugh, just because he’s laughing.  He’s spoiled rotten–mostly because of his three older siblings, who think he’s pretty much the most amazing eight-year-old on the planet.

You may or may not know Patrick’s story.  It’s pretty brutal…or full of the wonder of the grace of God.  It’s all in your perspective.  It’s a story that we have to share with him some day.

Patrick was born in a field, high in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador.  His mother delivered him, likely alone, and shoved him under some hay.  Then she walked away.  We have no idea how long he was out there.  We can speculate that it wasn’t more than a few hours, simply because the temperature would have dropped so low at night that he would have frozen to death had he been out there overnight.  What we do know is that at some point a lady from the nearby village heard him crying, and took him home.  She wrapped him up…and she loved him.  For four months, she loved my little boy.  (When he came to be our boy, I was given the little sweater and hat that she dressed him in.  My heart will be forever grateful for this gift.)  As much as she loved him, it is illegal to keep an abandoned child here in Ecuador.  When he was four months old, the village president told her that she would have to take him to Ambato, to the children’s home there.  I can only imagine her grief at leaving this precious little baby that she had cared for in the hands of strangers.  While he was there, he became very ill.  He was taken to the local hospital, where they did everything they knew to do.  At some point he was transferred to the children’s hospital here in Quito, and underwent surgery to remove approximately 80cm of his lower intestine.  It had been badly damaged by what was probably an overdose of antibiotics.  There are no records of any of this.  We’re just grasping at straws here.  After the surgery, a friend of ours who runs a children’s home here was asked to send someone to “sit with this baby who was going to die”.  He didn’t.  Much to the surprise of everyone, he didn’t.  After several days in the hospital, he was well enough to be released, and so off to the children’s home he went.  About six weeks later, I was volunteering one afternoon rocking babies (Tough job.  Someone’s gotta do it.) and my friend the director pointed to this chubby little baby lying on a blanket and said “He could really use some TLC.  Would you like to take him home for the weekend?”  I picked him up, and immediately realized that his “chub” was just several layers of clothing.  He was light as a feather.

At this point, his name was Fausto.  Fausto Rodrigo.  I packed Fausto into the car seat, and off we went.  Dan knew nothing about this.  The other kids knew nothing about this.  I just casually walked in the door with this precious little face peeking out at them from the carseat…and it was all over but the singing.  There was no question of taking him back.  He was our boy.  I had to go out of town for a week, and we took him back to the children’s home while I was gone, but as soon as I returned, the older kids set up a clamor to go and get our baby.  After a couple of anxious days of paperwork and such, we all piled into the car and off we went.  We had already decided that his name would be Patrick, after Dan’s mom.  Patrick Jesse Maloy came home on June 18th.  He was nine months old, he weighed eleven pounds, and the only “first” we missed was his first tooth.  He could barely hold his head steady, he couldn’t roll over or sit up…he was a newborn.  And he was all ours.

Our sweet boy has some challenges.  His left hand and arm are paralyzed as a result of a birth injury.  His speech is severely delayed.  People ask how I, as his mama, handle this.  I have no guilt because of it.  I didn’t do this to him.  I am not sad for him.  Patrick is a normal, healthy (70 pounds of healthy, in the first grade :-/) little boy.  His challenges don’t slow him down.  We have never treated him as anything but a normal little boy who happens to know that our world revolves around him. I consider being his mama one of the greatest gifts that the Lord has ever given me.

I said before that Patrick’s story is either incredibly brutal, or a testimony to the grace of God.  We choose grace in this house.  He shouldn’t be alive.  The odds were stacked against him from the moment he took his first breath.  And yet…he’s here.  We think that the Lord has something really big planned for our little black-eyed, black-haired Irish boy who thinks he looks just like his daddy.  And you know what?  The more you look at him…the more he does.  It’s all in your perspective.

Lost in love…

Now that you’ve all got that silly Air Supply song running through your head.  Last week, Dan and I traveled to Orlando, Florida for the annual Extreme Response Responders Gathering.  This is, hands down, my favorite weekend of the year.  OK-one of them.  We get to see our friends, hear about what ER is doing around the world, dream for the future and bless our partners.  It reminds me over and over again that we are so blessed to be a part of ER and of what the Lord is doing around the world.

After the conference, Sweet hubby and I did something we rarely–if ever–do.  We stayed in Florida for another three days, and had some “us” time.  We don’t get much of this.  Demanding jobs, four kids, neurotic dachshund who takes it personally if anyone else shows me the slightest bit of affection…date night around here usually consists of SH running me to the grocery store to pick something up for dinner because I once again failed to plan ahead.  Romantic, I know.  We spent three wonderful days together, and I am grateful beyond words for the time that we had.

We were blessed with two tickets to Sea World, so on Tuesday we headed for the Land of Shamu.  We went to all the shows, ate dinner in a restaurant that has sharks swimming around while you eat, rode the roller coasters…Yup.  I rode TWO roller coasters.  Me, who gets nervous if the car I’m riding in doesn’t have one of those handle things over the door to clutch.  Two roller coasters.  Including one that you ride flipped backwards and staring at the ground.  I was quite proud of me.  Of course when we exited, I couldn’t walk a straight line.  Not being able to walk a straight line is pretty normal for me-my inner gyroscope, or whatever that thing is that keeps you balanced, is defective.  I couldn’t pass a sobriety test to save my life…stone cold sober.  I’m blind in my right eye, and it causes me to sort of wander off in that general direction, whether I intend to or not.  When we were dating, Dan used to walk to the right of me, with his hand on the back of my neck.  People thought it was so romantic that he needed that constant connection.  Nothing romantic about it–he was steering.  He didn’t appreciate me running into him constantly.  And he couldn’t walk to the left of me, or I would invariably wander off into the crowd and he would have to come find me.

Wednesday we went to this fabulous outlet mall, because when you’re in the States, they have stores with real sales and clothes that fit you and shoes in your size…it’s glorious.  I had been to this outlet mall the previous Friday with the ER girls, and wanted to check it out again when I had more time.  I was looking for one store in particular.  We walked (he walked, I wandered) the mall several times and couldn’t find it.  I kept stubbornly insisting that it was there and that they had just left if off of the map (Don’t laugh.  That would happen down here.)  Finally, I asked someone.  She informed me that the store I was looking for was at the OTHER outlet mall.  I wish I could accurately describe the look on my poor hubby’s face when he realized that we were, indeed, going to go find that other outlet mall.  It was about 3:00 in the afternoon at this point, and he had been driving the car and steering the wife since 8:00 that morning.  This is a man who HATES to shop.

Many of you either prayed for or cared for our children while we were gone.  In spite of what you might have read on Facebook, they were never in any danger.  The drama was purely for our entertainment, and to make us feel guilty for leaving them here while we had the nerve to spend some time focusing on each other instead of on them.  They, of course, didn’t mind a bit once we got home and they figured out just exactly how much of the 300 pounds of stuff we hauled back was actually for them.

I love this Sweet Hubby of mine more than words.  I treasured the time we spent together, just talking and dreaming and steering…After 25 years, I can honestly say it just keeps getting better.  Except for my directional handicaps.  It’s good to have a man who will keep me from wandering off into the path of oncoming traffic simply because he likes having me around and isn’t finished with me yet.