The Blessing of Respite

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Believe it or not, it’s been nine months since I posted a blog. My self-imposed lapse has not been because I have nothing to say about this next round of parenting,  I just didn’t like what I would say. Since my mother taught me, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all,” I remained mute.

It’s hard to write from the depths of a pit. A pit of despair and exhaustion. Bogged down by the energy-sucking activities and responsibilities required to raise a four and ten-year-old.

dowmload-june-12-2016-043I didn’t want to whine.I despise whining. Whining in print feels ten times worse. I didn’t want to discourage the other grandparents bravely raising their next generation. Those, like us, who dearly love their grandkids and want the very best for them. But, also like us, are totally depleted at the end of each day. Many times the exhaustion striking hours before their bedtime.

When our children were younger, our friends had children around the same age. It was easy to share child care together to spell each other for a time of R&R. Our friends now have grandchildren of their own that take them to their limit. They are sweet and understanding of our need for a break but no way can they take on our two.

California and Oregon 090.JPGAmy and Neil gave us a wonderful 10-day respite this past summer. We went to the west coast for our 38th anniversary. We visited San Francisco and reunited with friends we met in Armenia. They helped us tour the Redwoods in Northern California. What a wonderful way to have your attitude adjusted- looking at the magnitude of those majestic trees made us feel small. Even our problems seemed much smaller.california-and-oregon-123

I would encourage those have friends and family raising their grandchildren, if you are able, come alongside your friends and offer some respite. Even an hour helps. Take the kids to the park, or a movie or a walk. Offer to read some books so grandma can get a shower or make some important phone calls.

It is equally important for us grandparents to graciously accept such offers. There’s no shame in admitting you need a break- some adult only time to talk and relax. Have a blessed respite. dowmload June 12, 2016 104.JPG

 

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Éclair to the Rescue

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Toys abound in our home. Dolls, trucks, stuffed animals, games, DVDs and every possible contraption that makes noise came with the kids. But stories are what bring solace to Katrena, particularly books. They provide her with an avenue of escape and feed her imagination.

feb 2016 020One book series in particular has become to Katrena what Piggy is to her brother.  The main character, Éclair, comes alive as a precocious seven-year-old girl. She and her two-year-old sister, Meggie must go to live with their eccentric grandmother, Stella, while their mother is getting treatment for an illness and their father travels for work.

The books were written by Michelle Weidenbenner, feb 2016 021a talented author who was raised two of her grandchildren for a while. She sent the first two books in the series, Éclair Meets Stella and Éclair Meets a Gypsy, to Katrena in time for Christmas last year. Katrena opened the book, began to read and was instantly captivated. She ignored her other Christmas presents while she drank in the story. The similarities in their stories are remarkable. Éclair and Meggie were the same age as Katrena and Isaac when they were displaced. Éclair’s persistent attempts to fix her parent’s problems and reunite the family echoesEaster 2015 040 the desire of Katrena’s heart. The books, like Isaac’s piggy, are getting worn and dog-eared. I’ve found Katrena awake and reading them at four in the morning because, “I fell asleep while I was reading and now I just need to get to the end of the chapter.”

These books have been a blessing to me as well because it helps me get inside Katrena’s and Isaac’s head and understand what they may be feeling. Although I don’t have maroon-colored hair and I haven’t painted our barn pink, like Stella, I can identify with her.

At the end of this past year, Michelle published feb 2016 022the third book in the series, Éclair Goes Geocaching. Katrena and I had the honor of pre-reading it and sending Michelle a critique of the book. We both absolutely loved it and a bit of Katrena’s critique was printed on the back cover. eclair 007

She was so excited to see her name in print shefeb 2016 002 announced to our houseful of guests at the time, “I’m famous. I want everybody’s autograph.” She passed around the paper, and received many “autographs” with words of encouragement.

Now she wants to write a book of her own. She certainly has many life experiences and lots to say. We’ll let you know when it goes to print. In the meantime, she is enjoying these books and looking forward to book four, Éclair in the Show Ring.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank you for Michelle and the many other talented writers willingly share their hearts and experiences–whose words encourage and give solace to the wounded and those caring for them.

The Future + Reality Check = Freak Out

While new mothers may scour child-rearing books for words of wisdom in facing their new challenges, Ecclesiastes is my go-to book. I especially like King Solomon’s words of wisdom in chapter 3:

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.

Those words came to mind the other day as my husband and I were the Future+ Reality Check = Freak Out“forward planning.” As we talked about the future, our conversation morphed into the discussion of how fast time was passing and how quickly our grandchildren were growing up.

“Just think, in a little over seven years I’ll be teaching another of our girls how to drive,” I said. He gave a little shutter.

“What’s the big deal? I’ve taught four others.”The Future + reality Check = Freak Out

Bill’s response brought the reality check. “But you weren’t sixty-six years old.”

Yikes!

“By the time Isaac becomes a teenager, we’ll be seventy years old,” he said. “That makes us close to eighty when he graduates high school.”

His math began to freak me out. Even now as I ponder these facts, the overall picture of the future is too over whelming. I can’t fathom how we will handle all the responsibilities and challenges that will arise while raising two children at this stage of our life. There are just too many unknowns in the equations.

So I choose to focus on the present and the constants.

Jesus said, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34

Peter reminds me to “Cast all your anxiety on him (Jesus) for he cares for you. 1Peter 5:7

Consequently, my forward-planning is changing. It’s shrinking. Last year our focus was to get through the school year. That’s when physical custody was to be reevaluated. It was. Nothing had changed. Although we have no idea what the future holds for us, it’s apparent we will be caring for the children for many years.

I have to be honest. I didn’t think it would be so hard. I was wrong. It is.

My plan to cope is two-pronged. One—narrow my focus. I will make vague plans for the distant future but my largest time span to plan out is one to two months. I have many good days but some days it takes all my efforts to just make it through the day and I plan by the hour. I used to wake up and calculate the hours ‘til nap time. Isaac doesn’t nap any more, so now the question of the day is, “How many hours ‘til bedtime?”

Two—find joy in everyday life. More than once we’ve joked, “It’s a good thing you’re cute.” And they are. They are talented and funny and love bear hugs, tickles and kisses. When I look at them as the treasure then are, the future is not so scary.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who gets freaked out by the reality of the future. What it that reality for you? What is your plan and method to cope?

My prayer: Father God, thank you for your promise to never leave us or forsake us. It is the stabilizing constant in my life. Help me to focus on the joys of raising our grandchildren and leave the future in your loving hands.