Wednesday, March 9, 2016

What Goes In Will Come Out

It is march 8th, and for the record I am sitting outside, in a skirt and cardigan, wearing sandals. SANDALS! Do you know what that means???!!! My kid is playing shirtless in the front yard and ALL the windows are open. I feel.... free. Seventy degrees in March has not happened in the four years I have been in the Midwest and I am assuming is fairly unusual. So this is cause for celebration. I am celebrating by breaking a long time blog silence. I have had some things swimming around in my head for a while but have not been able to find time to sit down and collect my thoughts. 
Winter seemed to pass by in a flash this year. A lot of months where engulfed with sickness and newly discovered food allergies. We spent my 30th birthday and Christmas housebound. I have had a lot of time to think. Both our boys have been diagnosed with rare food allergy conditions in the first year of life. Liam has since grown out of his (Praise the Lord!!!) and we are still in the thick of it with Gray. My initial response is one that I have come to see as a toxic pattern in my life. The victim response. Why my? Why us? And as someone who has had quite a few jolting traumatic events in my twenties this would be a comfortable and understandable place to wallow. I even have the open invitation from friends and strangers to rest in that place of wallowing. Empathetic caring friends who wanted to validate the severity of the events. And I am so thankful I have sensitive people in my life who aren't afraid of hard things. But this time I feel God calling me to something else entirely. 
Because of Grayson's food allergy and the fact that I am still breast feeding him, we both have been on a very strict diet. Initially to avoid the allergens and secondarily to try to clear up some stomach food sensitivity issues. The practice of abstaining made me realize how often I put food into mouth without thinking about it. This got me thinking. I allow a lot into my body without thinking about it. Food, imagines, other peoples opinions, my own lingering toxic thoughts. I let all these things come in without much thought, no real filtration system. I listen to people unsolicited opinions. I read unfounded internet crap. I don't say what I need and let well meaning words guide my thoughts and then cling to them. And people have no idea what that does to my state of mind.Its not their fault. I watch crappy tv without thinking how it affects me. And what comes out? An anxious victim minded person. What do I expect? Now I'm not saying to stop all this or become a hermit. But maybe we all need the jolt of an allergic reaction to make us wonder, "now what in the world caused that"?! 
I have been reading a book by Charlotte Mason about habits. She talks about our minds ability to wonder and how we can train children to have fixed attention. Habit building is the key to a mothers success, she says. One of the most interesting passages was discussing how to build a new habit. That the key is unapologetic consistency. She uses the example of reminding a child to shut a door. To continually, each time, bring the child's awareness to the door. But not in a nagging negative "you forgot again" way. Then before long you notice the child is shutting the door. A lot of us as parents feel bad at that time. Like the child is suffering because he is strained by this new habit, so we ease up thinking we need to make up for the strain. When the child, at this point, isn't hurting about it at all. It has become second nature. Life really is all in the way things are framed. I can choose to see this time of abstaining as a curse, think about all the things I am missing. I can put my hands up in front of my face and shield  myself from the expected blow b bad or raise my fists in anger ready to fight back. Or wonder "why me"? Or, I can open up my hands, and receive it as an invitation to grow. (I am not saying that there is not a very important place for the acknowledgement of hardship. This is so very important. But this is not the place to linger) If we believe God loves us, is with us, and wishes to bless us, isn't this the posture we can confidently take? 
And my ability to do this is directly correlated to what I let in and shape my thinking. So I have stepped back, which has allowed me to think carefully and intentionally about what is coming toward me. And rather than seeing life as flying at me I am seeing things from a new vantage point. 
This verse has been one I have held to this winter:
You keep him in perfect peace  whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3-4

An now for way to many pictures spanning from Halloween to Grays first birthday.