Two weeks ago today, I put my oldest daughter on a plane to return home to her dad. That morning, I put the following as my Facebook status.
When Tommy was born, he was very sick. When it was time for me to be discharged from the hospital one of my doctors came to see me in the NICU, as I was only in my room when I was not allowed at his bedside. She told me that while I would be back in 3 hours, leaving him would feel like I was cutting my own arm off with a saw and leaving it at the hospital as I returned home.
She was right.
But what I didn’t realize that day was that a few months later my older 2 kids would be moving away against my wishes and that it would be her words that got me through every departure.
Just because it feels like my arm is missing, it is not. Just because my heart aches and my arms are empty, I am still a mother. Even though this hurts so very much and I want to collapse, I have children that need me to go on. God will strengthen me, and I can do the goodbyes and pretending to be strong even when I am not. I will do it again in 3 weeks when the other leaves. I will continue the distracting for the entire family the next 46 weeks and all the many cries from younger siblings to “please just bring them back” when I wish I could.
My arm is still here. I am still their mom. I will (try to) stay strong, and in June these arms and my heart will be full again. But today, I’m crying. A lot.
A week from today, my oldest son will be heading home. (He came down a little later than his sister.) The shock that August is really here already is not settling well in our home. We all feel as though the anticipation for summer was just a few days ago. I keep asking my husband to slow down time or reverse it, as if he had the ability. Time flies when you’re having fun.
I have learned over the last few years just what to expect in the coming weeks: All of us will cry. There will be a lot of prayer and hugging. Some of us will be cranky for a few days. Johnny Ben, my son with severe autism, will walk about the house looking for his brother and sister. He will want to sleep where they slept for a while. (He’s been sleeping in his big sister’s spot since she left.) We will look through photos and videos while we reminisce. Almost immediately we will begin a countdown to next summer.
I will distract… and I will distract my family as much as possible. It’s not that we are not coping with our feelings. It is that this is how our life is, and it can be really painful. So to lessen the stinging and gnawing pain, we have to look away for a bit sometimes. Kinda like how someone might look away when getting a shot of antibiotics. We will talk to the kids in another state on the phone and in messages and we will discuss the situation we are in. But staying busy at the end of summer, I have found, has been the answer to rationing the tears. We will dive into a new year of homeschooling, go on a few fun adventures, I will attempt some craft and sewing projects, we’ll have a few long movie nights, science projects, and, hopefully, a lot of laughter.
It still hurts. We still feel a deep emptiness. We talk about our feelings very openly and pray together. But staying busy is better than wallowing in misery and allowing the pain to suck every bit of joy out of our lives. I may be a non-custodial mother to two of my children, but that does not mean that I have to walk around crying every minute of every day.
I don’t expect anyone who has not been in my shoes to understand how this feels. I do know that just as much as homeschooling parents are tired of the “Oh, I could never do that.” comments, I’m tired of hearing about it in reference to not seeing my children every day. I’m not stronger than anyone. I’m not a fragile mess because my kids are not with me either. This is not something that while I held my two oldest babies for the first time that I thought would ever happen. But it did, and I somehow managed to miraculously survive those first few years. I would never wish it on my worst enemy.
I do know that I am blessed to still have them at all. How can I complain when mothers on the other side of the planet are burying their children because of famine or faith?
There have been times I have not handled these situations the best way, and I will be the first to admit that. Thankfully, God finally got through my hard head and I realized the best way to deal with my feelings.
During my Jr. High and High School years, I became fascinated with Philippians 4. I read it over and over. Judye even placed a plaque with Philippians 4:13 over my desk when I was her pupil in High School and it was drilled into my heart. Years later, I understood why. The first time I felt any kind of peace was when I had said to someone that I just didn’t know if I could be strong enough for this. Without even thinking, in the next breath I stated Philippians 4:13, which has been my favorite scripture for many years.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13
Whenever I feel like I just can’t do this again, I remember that Christ has me in the palm of His hand and He will give me the strength I need.
There is no one that can relate to my heart like He can. No one.
That is where I find my peace, in Christ.
I take the pain that could do me in and instead of self-destructing I use the creativity God has given me and I recycle the darkness into some, um, interesting creations. Ha! Okay, some of them are pretty good. Others? Well, let’s just say that a good friend and I have a running joke about my attempts at cake pops. I could fill a whole other website with all of my Pinterest fails. But hey, even they bring laughter. 😉 Laughter is good!
If you are a non-custodial parent reading this, I pray that God would comfort your heart. That He would calm your spirit and help you to cope in a way better than anything else can offer. There are healthy ways to handle the pain, and there are the options that sometimes may just seem easier. Remember that even when your children are not with you, they still need you. They need you to be healthy and whole physically, mentally, and spiritually. When you feel like collapsing, reach out to Jesus and let Him hold you. I have learned that He’s always there and will always catch you if you let Him. Feel free to leave a comment below if you would like us to pray for you.
I’ve been trying really hard the last few months to get in shape. With the help of Plexus, I have lost 54 lbs since the last week of April. I also have less pain (MUCH less) from my joints/fibromyalgia issues. Since losing all that weight, I am feeling more inspired to embark on other paths to becoming healthier. I’m trying to get in an exercise routine, drink more water, and take better care of myself in other ways as well.
Now, in no way do I claim to be doing everything I can (though I would like to), but I am trying. I decided to put some scriptures to encourage healthy living up around the house in strategic places to remind me of the changes I am making. Since I was typing these up for myself, I thought maybe someone else would like to have a copy too.
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The reason I chose Galatians 5:22-23 is pretty self-explanatory, especially since I have self-control in a larger font than any of the other words. I am placing this passage on my refrigerator and inside the cabinet for our pantry. With this scripture in my face every time I feel like snacking, I can stop and think about what and why I am reaching for something to eat. Am I really hungry, or am I bored, thirsty, emotional, etc? Should I really be getting chips? Because occasionally that is okay, but maybe I should be cutting up some veggies instead. If I am reminded to use self-control with my eating, a lot of good can be done instead of “just this once” turning into “just this time every day at the exact minute”.
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Ecclesiastes 10:18 is going above my tv, and maybe inside my Kindle case. There are many times that I could be doing something active, but would rather do something else that does not use a single muscle. Now, as I stated above, I do have joint issues and fibromyalgia. However, that does not give me a free pass to never work out at all. There is also a kind of funny/embarrassing aspect to why I chose this scripture: I need to be reminded to do kegels. I don’t want my house leaking… I don’t think anyone else wants my house leaking either. In fact, it’s pretty frowned upon. 😉 No reason a few can’t be done every time I sit down in the living room, right?
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I am always beating myself up for my appearance. Saying that I lack self-esteem is an understatement. But I know deep down in my heart that I am beautiful in God’s sight. Proverbs 31:30 is going to be taped to the mirror on my vanity, so that when I am preparing to leave the house I will read those words and not walk out the door in a foul mood. It will also make me sing “That Kinda Girl” by DC Talk. Who doesn’t love a little memory from the Free At Last album in their day? If that doesn’t put me in a good mood, well, something must be really wrong that day.
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Can you guess where I will be taping John 7:38? If you guessed inside the fridge, you guessed right. This is for a couple of reasons: to drink more water and to remember who the life-giver is… and if I want to be healthy in this life I need to take care of His temple. I have always hated water. The taste, the way my stomach feels after drinking it, just everything. I don’t know why. But if I add a few flavor drops or infuse it with water, I handle it fine. Whatever it takes, I need to have more of it for many reasons.
Soon I may add more scriptures to encourage healthy living to my decor, but for now these are the 4 I am going to focus on. I still have a lot of weight to lose, but I know that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Like how I through Philippians 4:13 in there? Did you see my post about that on our Facebook page yesterday? Maybe next I will put up some scriptures to encourage housework…)
To learn more about Plexus, click the blog button below or go directly to Alicia’s Plexus site by clicking here. I truly tried every route my doctor suggested for a few years without any success. This has been the only thing that has worked for me so far. An answer to prayer!
And just for fun…
Want to see more posts from us about how we are trying to start the year off right? Click here!
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
If you know me personally, you may think I’m “cheating” by using this scripture for my #Verse2014. It has been my favorite since I was a little girl and I have it on display in various parts of my home. However, the truth is I prayed about what scripture to keep in focus this upcoming year, and this one kept coming to mind. It wasn’t until I was settled in on a One Word (serve) for this year that I was sure that Philippians 4:13 was the exact scripture I needed to remember day in and day out.
2014 holds a lot of changes for our family and for me personally. None of them will be easy. There are habits to break, routines to put in place, goals to reach, and a lot of growth to take place. No is not an option on any of these changes. They must happen. While some of them, like getting in shape after spending most of 2013 very sick, seem impossible, I know that with Jesus’ help I can make it happen.
We’ve all heard the explanation of this verse in a sermon, sunday school, children’s church, Bible study, youth group, etc… It doesn’t say some things. It doesn’t say most things. It says ALL things. I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me!
I can raise my children the way God wants me to. I can accomplish the goals that seem so far out of reach. I can take my health back. I can beat insomnia. I can serve God the way I should even on the days my flesh wants to take over. I can do it all, but not on my own. Not at all on my own. I need Jesus to help me. I need Jesus to guide me. I need Jesus to open the doors that would close in my face. I need Jesus.
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To help me remember, I’m creating events in my calendar at random times throughout the year to pop up and remind me. Who knows, maybe they’ll pop up at just the right time. 😉
On a final note, I want to mention that Emily and I did not discuss what our scriptures would be. We just so happened to choose scriptures out of the same chapter in Philippians. (Click here to read Emily’s #Verse2014.) How cool is that? I love when God pieces things together that way.
Do you have a particular theme verse for 2014? Please share it with us! If you don’t have one yet, go to http://blog.youversion.com/ to help find your #Verse2014.