Help. Thanks. Wow.

Anne Lamott, or as others call her, St. Anne, claims that the Essential Prayers sound this simple:
Help.
Thanks.
Wow.

I have prayed many, many words over many, many years, but I’m not sure I could come up with a prayer, petition, or praise that wouldn’t fit those three categories: help, thanks, wow.

Other than Tween staying home to vomit all day – and yes, this almost feels normal in a skin-crawling, crazy-making kind of way – today had been a good day: gym time, coffee with a friend, productive meetings; a friend brought her kids over to help Tween with homework (read: play), which meant moms also had time together.

Too much of an almost-good day? Teen locked his jaws on a potential outing to which I’ve said a solid, emphatic “NO!” I know he wants freedom, and I get that I represent his jailer, but I can’t say yes to this one. But ADHD hyper-focus shuts down his compassion and he bites hard, and long, and it’s all I can do to breathe and answer in a whisper so as not to provoke him further.

Interruption: the splash of Tween being violently ill.

Breathe. Pray. Breathe. Pray.

I made dinner and left it on the stove. I mentally went back to work to avoid my life’s chaos. When I thought I’d heard the end of Guy and Teen hashing out the same conversation I’d endured earlier, I cautiously emerged. Also, Tween was feeling better and able to eat.

I ate a few bites. Teen apologized and hugged me harder than ever. Even so, I spied my little eye into the liquor cabinet (Mexican food = margarita, right?) before Guy mentioned he’d chilled chardonnay. And then I noticed the pinkish light through our windows.

I poured two glasses of wine and invited Guy outside. Glasses clinked, we stood silently and watched as blue became grey became pink, peach, plum, dusky purple. The horizon lit orange, fire colors. Hot and intense, casting now yellow, autumnal light. We followed the light from front yard to back, where we sat to watch the colors change through our tree-silhouetted skyline. I thought, “This is what I needed. I am putting myself in the way of beauty (my “word” for 2015). This beauty, this WOW, will help me breathe.”sunset

Help: Help us make it through this abdominal migraine cycle. Help Doctors discover a way out of future cycles. Help Tween persevere through this mountain of work. Help Teachers respond with grace and kindness. Help Teen put his focus on Needs rather than Wants. Help Guy and I to stay on the same page in this whole parenting deal. Help maintain my sanity!

Thanks: Thanks for these three fantastic men you’ve put in my life. Thanks for Friends who surround us – with prayer, moral support, offers to cook and shop and even tutor, pop-in work and play dates, even tangible gifts (Homemade feed corn ice-heat packs? Awesome! Essential oils? Escential!). Thanks for killing our blender just as Guy was in Costco, and Big Thanks for the VitaMix he brought home to replace it. Thanks for holding us safe in Your Great Big Hands.

Wow: Seriously, this gorgeous sunset? WOW! The picture doesn’t do it justice. That these vibrant colors came from smog, sure, but I am wowed that you continually choose to bring beauty from bad, redemption from our rubbage. Tonight, I am wowed that you are an ever-present Help; that you are the source of any good thing for which I can say Thanks; that you are our WOW.

And just in case I sound too precious, Teen demonstrated his love for me – his goofy-kid way of saying sorry yet again – by trusting me with his beauties just as I finished writing (evidence that I’m growing in love for him, too, that I let these two crawl around on my lap).snakes

Let it Be

Last week God gave me a miracle of closure.

Almost a year ago, a long-time friendly acquaintance, a would-be friend had we shared greater proximity in the time we’ve known one another, well, she threw me under the bus.

She observed and entirely misunderstood an encounter I had with someone else. Instead of talking to me, she spoke poorly of me to others. Word got back to me, and I got back to her.

Because I’m better in writing, I wrote her a note and took the high road for the sake of the relationship. I didn’t attempt to explain, simply stated that I thought there had been a misunderstanding. I apologized, even asked for forgiveness, for having unintentionally offended her. I expressed gratitude for our relationship. I never heard back from her.

Which meant that every time I saw her I felt injured and sad. Stung. Rejected.

But I also felt like I’d done what I’d needed to, and the rest was on her. Best I could, I had to let it be.

Last weekend Guy and I attended a local art and wine festival. As we sipped cold beer in the shade, hiding from the blistering sun while we listened to an exceptionally good Beatles cover band, quite suddenly SHE was standing directly in front of me. She was laughing and hugging us both. She introduced us to her husband. She gave us the whole run-down on how she’s doing, how her kids are doing, kids I’ve prayed for, kids who have moved from early adolescence through college graduation in the time I’ve known her.

As if nothing had ever happened. She was exactly the same friendly, happy acquaintance I’ve always known.

We parted ways and eventually found a quiet table. Stunned, I reminded Guy of the situation a year ago; he never knew who the other player had been. She has a job now and can no longer attend our regular gathering. Barring any more spontaneous God-encounters, that may possibly have been the last time I’ll see her.

The band’s song broke through my reflections: “Let it Be.”

When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
And in my hour of darkness
She is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

Of course Mary’s situation couldn’t be more different, but her words of wisdom ring true just the same: Let it be. Whatever God intends, let it be. God noticed this one small ache in my heart and orchestrated closure. He asked me to forgive, and when I still couldn’t forget, He brought joy. Let it be.

Those words have stuck with me this week as Tween has caught us up in another cyclone of abdominal migraines. They warned us it could get worse and the variation in this cycle, the night-time vomiting, the not-enough-warning make-a-mess vomiting, yup, they’re worse.

sick QNot to mention the middle school homework piling up. And the silence from his teachers, despite our request for class notes and extra directions necessary to understand the assignments.

The specialist has ordered more tests, and referred us to another doctor who will likely order more tests. Meanwhile, the anti-nausea meds continue to be ineffective.

Panic threatens to drown me, and so I whisper words of wisdom: Let it be.

We didn’t ask for this. We don’t know what causes it or how to stop it. We simply take each hour, each episode, as it comes. Really, what choice do we have?

God cares about the little things, and so I trust that He cares even more about the big things. Keeping life in perspective, there are Much Bigger Things than a week of vomiting. But for now this is our Big Thing, and I will trust that God cares.

Let it be. And as I was reminded again yesterday, let me be still and know that He is God. He will be exalted among the nations. He will be exalted in the earth (Psalm 46:10).

He’s got the nations. He created and sustains the whole earth. He’s certainly got us. Amen.

Soup, Stories, Snuggles & Sparkles

Tween is sick. Except not really.

Poor kid has Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome, also known as abdominal migraines. Yup, migraines that seem to mostly bypass his head and move straight to vomiting. And cyclic, because he throws up every morning, whether or not he’s eaten, until he’s exhausted and his belly aches from convulsing muscles. Obviously he can’t go to school, or do much of anything else, because who wants a pukey kid? Who wants to be Puke Kid?

This came on a year ago and we thought it must be an odd stomach bug. Until it bit again last fall. And winter. And this week. His shortest cycle has been three days (we’re on Day 3 now); his longest cycles have been two five-day weeks, separated by an apparently healthy weekend between.

Beyond the barf, he’s not actually sick. No fever, aches or pains, definitely not contagious. Blood tests have ruled out food allergies or worse problems. I’m keeping diligent notes of everything – any fun or stress leading up to a cycle, what time he has been unwell, what he eats, how he feels… So far no patterns. The new object of our suspicion: hormones. He is 11yo, stepping right up to the plate of puberty. As if puberty doesn’t have enough in its sick-o Bag o’ Tricks.

Puppy snuggles = sweet comfort

Puppy snuggles = sweet comfort

He is missing end-of-school-year fun. He missed the middle school Spring Fling/Open House – Games2U truck, friends, food treats. Worst of all, he has to miss out on his buddy’s promised birthday gift to him, a weekend trip to Santa Cruz – hotel + pool, beach, boardwalk, too much fun! [His parents are also missing out on fun, but this isn’t about us.]

So what’s a parent to do? Continue to find ways to thank God and stay positive.

* This kid is naturally predisposed to be a home-body. He loves pj days, cozy blankets, and snuggles.

* We have time for all that and more, especially as I have a fairly flexible job and understanding co-workers.

* We have been journeying with Bilbo and Dwarves for months as we’ve been reading The Hobbit and we’re almost at the end. Guy took Tween to Redbox and rented the last movie so we can see it tonight after we close the covers on the book.

* I stopped by the library yesterday and found a few new books Tween hasn’t read, entertainment for those stretches I have had to work, or at least take myself and the dog for a walk.

* I made a big pot of soup before this cycle hit and it’s been one of the few things that sound good to him and he’s been able to (mostly) keep down.

* Staying hydrated has been a struggle as, surprisingly, water seems to be one of his triggers. Then again, I couldn’t drink flat water when I was pregnant with him; it had to have ice and bubbles. So we’re putting our SodaStream to good use, making ice cold sparkling water. Fizzy bubbles add fun.

We know other parents have much bigger struggles, kids battling much worse ailments, and our hearts and prayers go out to them. Still, this struggle is ours and once this cycle ends we will continue to pursue answers and possible treatments and a better way forward. Meanwhile, soup, stories, snuggles, and sparkles – a cycle of their own, and prayerfully, a healing cycle for all of us.