why i hate my bagless vacuum

 

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My mom just purchased me a new bagless vacuum.  It is my first.  My other one has the traditional white bag and a door that closes snuggly on that said bag.  I took my new vacuum on a test run and after I was done, I looked into that clear cylinder and saw a pile of dust and dog hair that made me a little grossed out.  And I realized, I don’t want to see the junk that this vacuum sucks up.

That stupid clear cylinder is just a picture into what I know is in my house, but what I’m not interested in seeing.  Which my friends, is my life story.  Some of my greatest conflict arises when I see in others what I wish not to see in myself.

Last month we did back to back vacations with the family.  My kids were good for the most part. They don’t really fight and there weren’t that many moments of complaining.  But 13 days in a condo, car, or hotel room can put all of us on edge.  And would you know who I was the most annoyed with?  My husband.  Every time he lost his patience with the kids I was upset.  But the honest truth is, it annoyed me because it’s the thing I like least about myself.  I’m always feeling like I’m in an internal battle to keep cool 100% of the time.  And I don’t know about you, but this is not, and never will be, a realistic goal.

I have the same conflict with my kids.  What bothers me most about my children is when the exhibit traits that I either did have, or I’m afraid I do.  I have some serious issues with thinking that I might be lazy.  So I work harder.  I will often give my husband a run down of all the things I did during the day.  It takes a week of massive To Do lists being checked off to allow myself to even watch TV.  It’s crazy.  So when my kids “appear” to be lazy while they binge watch The Office while sitting in their messy rooms, I am beside myself.  My children become that clear cylinder and I catch myself thinking They can not have inherited laziness from me!

People often think that parents have the most conflict with the kid that is most like them. For me, I have the most conflict with the kid that appears to be a clear cylinder that is filled up with all of MY junk.

I believe that people around us, including our children, are in our lives to teach us something.  There is always more focus on what we need to instill in our children or how to better express our needs to spouses so they can be better to us.  Sometimes we just need to look inside that clear cylinder and sort through all the junk that we know is in there but have so much trouble looking at.

We can not grow and change until our junk is out in the open and visible anyway.

I probably still won’t be using the bagless vacuum though.  Not just because I can see the junk, but also because it makes it really hard to hide all the legos I vacuum up.

 

How I Became a Parent of the 80’s

The web is full of funny, quirky blogs about how differently parenting used to be.  I love reading them and I used to think “Oh I wish it could be that way.”  Well this summer I just discovered, on accident, how to make that happen.  All you need to do is adopt a 6th kid who is also a toddler and have a teenager go through a major surgery.  If you are middle aged as I might be, you will be tired as hell.  With this exhaustion, you will forget that you are supposed to be on a helicopter.  That baby will crash and burn.

What I’ve discovered is that the morons that I live with actually have the ability to, wait for it, RISE TO THE OCCASION.  It’s utterly amazing.

I’ve spent the past summers where the kids wake up and they each have a little jar full of popsicle sticks that each have a chore on them.  Once they finish the chores, they can have 90 minutes of TV.  (This was not my original idea friends).  It helped me get the house clean and helped me to monitor the TV time.  Loved it.

It’s July and I haven’t gotten the jars out.  Just couldn’t muster up the energy.  And you know what has happened?  The kids just help me clean.  (well, 4 of them)  When the dishwasher is done, I say “Can you please empty this?” and then……they do it.  Without complaining. Who are these strangers?

What am I doing about controlling the amount of electronics they consume?  Almost nothing.  Yes, you heard me.  And they don’t seem to have lost IQ points yet.  When I just feel like it’s been enough I walk through the house and yell “Turn them off.  Everything.  Go outside.  Be a real kid.  Make something. Play a game.  Use water.”  And strangely, they do.  Just like I did when I was a kid and my mom told me to do something and there wasn’t some freaking stick, or incentive, or magic clown party in the back yard she organized to entertain me.

This summer my sons ride their bikes everywhere.  To the pool, basketball courts, 7-11.  It’s great.  Please keep in mind I live in a city and they have to cross a major road to even leave the neighborhood.  This used to stress me out.  In addition, Mesfin broke his phone so naturally he’s not getting it replaced until I feel as if he’s suffered enough.  (He will currently tell you he’s suffered like a POW).  At first I was concerned to send them out without a phone.  And then, well, I was really busy and just plain forgot I was supposed to worry they were being kidnapped. Did your mom know where you were in the 80’s?  Yeah, not even for 5 minutes.  I left the house when I felt like leaving, rushed home at 430 to do the list of chores she gave me and was there to greet her at the door when she got home at 515.  Then I left again.  Twice I’ve driven by where they said they were going to be, and I’ll be darned if those little stinkers were ACTUALLY there!

Iris fell off her bike last week.  She was crying.  Her arm hurt really bad, but to my clearly professional eye, it looked just fine.  “We should go to the hospital!” was her immediate response.  Well now, to my defense, I have been in a doctor’s office at least 3, if not 5 days a week for the first 4 weeks of summer.  So I responded with “Well, usually we cry it out for an hour and if it still hurts, then we go to the hospital.”  I didn’t make her wait quite that long (ok, 40 min.).  We get to the urgent aide, register, sit down, and you know what happened?  She stopped crying.  Her pain had gone from a 10, down to a 5.  I’m beside myself.

I text Jon: “So she feels better.  I HATE doctors and hospitals.  So far we’ve only done triage?  Do you think it would be socially acceptable if I just run out the door before they call us?”

And since he’s also regressing as a parent, he responded with a yes.

I’m about to get up when they call her back and I decide, oh ok, if I don’t have to wait and X-ray can’t hurt.  If you haven’t figured out how this turns out…….it’s BROKEN.  At the elbow.  Near the growth plate.

Faye spent a few days in the hospital for an infection this summer.  Prepared meals? None.  Play dates arranged while 25 miles away in a hospital?   Nope, not this time.  Home for 16 hours and leave a list of chores?  Sure did.  The house was actually pretty clean and I was struggling to find things for them to do, but it felt like sort of a moral failure to NOT have them do some work.

Here’s the truth:  I’m tired.  Exhausted a lot.  Yes, it was my doing to make my family so large.  Yet the thing is, I’m not tired of being their parent, I’m just tired of parenting the way I’ve been doing it.  I still want to be a “yes” mom….it’s just who I am.  However I’ve realized that being a “no” mom is fantastic.  It feels so good sometimes.  No is the answer needed if what they want is going to make me more exhausted than I already am!

I am living with young adults and I’m ready for them to start acting like it.  Yet the only way they can act like it is if I give them the opportunities to be responsible.  Without feeling bad about it or being scared they will get hurt.  I no longer want to monitor all of their homework and grades, I don’t want to keep them in a 4 block radius because I’m worried about them, I don’t want to be afraid, I’m not interested in logging their TV time…..none of it.

I’m spending the rest of the summer focusing only on the things that are long term and eternal.  I hope it ends and they’ve learned a little something about how hard little toddlers can be, how much work it takes to run a house, the image of a good marriage, what kindness looks like, that responsibility actually feels good, how we take care of each other because we are family, and that fun doesn’t come with a price tag and a bunch of glitter.  Fun can be found at the dining room table just being loved by those around you.

Now I just need to remember to keep that helicopter landed and not jump back on!  It’s actually not a fun ride at all.

 

How I Became a Mom Today

I know this will come as a shock to most people….but today I became a mom again.  This is our son: Isaac Kirkland Zabrocki

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It is a story I can not even begin to believe has happened. It begins with the question I always get, “Are you guys going to adopt again?’

My answer “Well, I’ll never say no because to say no would mean my heart for orphans would need to change.  However I do not intend to ever, ever actually pursue an adoption.  No, our family is full.  If God wants me to have another child He will literally have to drop one off at the door.”

So on January 2nd, God laughed in my face and sent Kirkland (Isaac) to our front door.

He came through Safe Families, which is an organization we often take kids through.  It is intended to help moms in need for short periods of time while they get assistance that they need for a variety of things.  It is a beautiful way to help out woman who want to parent but just need a little help.  We’ve had multiple children over the past 5 years and I’ve been very confident that returning them to their parents was the best decision ever.

I will also say that in the past 5 years I have heard of 1 single adoption through safe families out of the hundreds of children that it helps.  It just does not happen.  In fact, I always tell people who want to adopt to NOT do safe families because they will struggle with giving the kids back and that is not the intent.

Within a week of Isaac being here, I remember Jon saying “I think he’s going to be ours.”  What?  NO.  That is not how this works and he’s not even up for adoption.  Then the kids began with “We want him to be our brother!”  Again, NO.

I worked with his mom, encouraging her to parent.  His mother is young, sweet, kind, and just loves her children.  There are 3 in all.  However she just got into school and has been overwhelmed with caring for them for a long time.  In February, all three went home and I felt good about it.  Yes I loved him, but that isn’t unusual.  I love a lot of kids we host.  But I’m even more overjoyed when they are reunited with their parents.

Within a week, the family member she was living with kicked her out and she ended up in a shelter.  It was difficult for her and school looked to be out of the question.  She decided to talk to an adoption agency and asked us to adopt her son since he had already created a bond with us.

My first response was yes, of course I would, but let’s explore all options.  I encouraged her to look at adoptive families willing to take all 3 kids together.  However, after evaluations of the children, the psychologists all suggested that to better serve their needs, the oldest two shouldn’t be adopted together.  And all this time, Isaac’s bio mom just kept saying, “I pick you.  It’s going to be you.”

I said next to nothing to anyone.  I just couldn’t believe this was happening.  Plus I didn’t want to get my hopes up because until she signed the official court papers, I had no legal rights to this little boy.  The months passed.  She continued counseling.  She visited with the kids.  She was afraid and unsure, so we just supported her and waited to see what she would decide.

Three weeks ago she set a court date and said she was ready.  My adoption agency helped us finish a home study in 3 weeks – an unbelievable task I assure you.  My daughter had surgery at that time and we did all our interviews on the 19th floor of Lurie’s Children’s Hospital in the lounge.  And somehow we managed a pile of paperwork all while helping our daughter recover.  It’s been a madhouse.

And then today she walked into court, and with a lot of sorrow, did the most amazing and sacrificial thing any mother can do.  She signed surrenders giving custody of her son to us, and custody of her two other children to a young couple she had chosen last month.

I literally sit here in shock.  I can not believe God placed a child at my door and no matter what I did, kept saying I have chosen you to do this.  It’s a beautiful thing.

We finalized the paperwork last Friday, 3 days ago, with our attorney and the was the moment she said “What do you want his name to be?”  He didn’t have a given middle name so we decided on Isaac.  After we sat on it a couple of days, we decided yesterday to actually change his name to Isaac.  It feels strange and right all at the same time.  He answers to both already, because, well, he’s 2 and just thinks everything is super funny.

The reason we chose Isaac because of it’s meaning in the Old Testament.  The story of Isaac begins in Genesis with his parents, Abraham and Sarah, who had always wanted for a child. When they were very old, the Lord came to Abraham and promised him a son.  Here was Sarah’s reaction:

Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. 11Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. 12So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?”

13Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ 14Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”

When the baby was born they named him Isaac, which means laughter.  Laughter could not be a better name for this child.

Isaac makes us laugh all day long.  He is a riot.  I find so much humor in how God planted a child in my life that I didn’t even know I needed.  Walking down to drop him off in the church nursery makes me laugh!  What am I doing there again?  When my 16 year old is carrying him and I can tell some people think he is her child instead of mine – even that cracks me up!  Go ahead strangers and make that assumption.  I also thought I was too old to be a mother again.  I will be 61 when he graduates high school and I assure you we will laughing that day too.

Everything that has transpired just awes me and fills me with joy.  My husband and I have always said that if we didn’t laugh so much we would never be able to handle all that happens in our lives.  I guess God decided to give us just a little more laughter.

Now when people ask me if I’m going to adopt again, I guess I will stay mute.  I don’t want to give God the challenge of putting a 7th kid in my house in his own miraculous ways.  However He clearly knows what I need before I even can imagine it.  So perhaps I will just leave everything up to Him.

 

 

 

My Real Life Facebook Post

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Yesterday one of my children came home with the C+ grade on her test.  My reaction?  Literally jumped for joy.  The school she attends is academically challenging and that test was going to be hard.  I won’t lie that there were many silent prayers just to not have her get an F.  The test was over waves and when we were studying I felt like some of it was just too much.  Because really, who cares?  My knowledge of sound waves consists of A.  They are there.  B.  They make the music come out of the radio in the car.  It’s gotten me through 44 years of life so I’m thinking it’s enough.

I would have posted a picture of that test on Facebook, but it would have left a ton of people scratching their heads.  Why would she post this?  I don’t really think this is bragging rights worthy.

The day before that my high school daughter had auditions for a higher level choir.  I’m not sure if she will make it, but I can not begin to explain how proud I am of her.  She is the one with off the charts anxiety so for her to overcome that and just DO this is amazing to me.  How exactly do I put that in a Facebook post?  Especially if she doesn’t get in.  Can you picture it?  Super proud of my daughter for not being good enough to get into the higher level choir she tried out for.  But she managed to walk through a door, find a room, and sing in front of a single person.  Yeah!

I was at a parenting conference last weekend and the speaker said There is greatness in all children.  It may not be the greatness you expected or wanted, but it’s there.  You just have to find it.  

This. Is. My. Anthem.

I am raising the most extraordinary children.  They are not at all what I expected.  In any way.  And in the Facebook world, there isn’t that much to say about them.  But that isn’t their fault.  It’s the fact that everyone wants to put on this amazing, shiny face to the world.  And let us be honest…..parenting isn’t all amazing and shiny.

Facebook has this way of making people think that everyone is raising exceptional, gifted children.  They aren’t.  The world isn’t full of that many gifted children.  It’s why they are called gifted in the first place.

We are raising ordinary children, who through love and encouragement, will become extraordinary in their own ways.

I received this email from my son’s teacher last week:

First of all, I just have to say that I was so appreciative last Friday with something Will did.  We had earned a free recess, so I took the kids out at the end of the day, and one of the boys struggles with the running games, so he’s often left out.  I sat down on a swing next to him, thinking that we could at least chat and maybe I could encourage him to at least try the tag game the kids were playing.  Will seemed to pick up on what was going on, came over and invited the boy to play.  Other students took Will’s lead, and wow, it was just such a shot in the arm for him to be able to play with his classmates.  It was one of those moments that I wrote about in the newsletter, when I get a glimpse of kids getting it, and it warmed my heart.

That is my son becoming extraordinary.  All on his own.

Did you notice that the email says “First of all”?  That’s because point 2 in the email essentially was “Your child was completely out of control today.  He could not settle down or stop talking.  He lost a recess.  PLEASE talk to him.”

I’m not raising Mother Theresa around here.  I’m raising real live kids with the ability to astound the teacher at one moment and then annoy the crazy out of her the next.

I’m ok if it’s not me posting pictures of my kids playing the viola, having the lead in the school play, or getting a 4.0.  But if is does happen, I probably will post it on Facebook.  I am proud of all my children’s achievements.  Visible and not visible.

The next Facebook post that you see of a child that seems to have it all, just remember that none of them do.  All parents have all been blessed with babies full of greatness.  Our job is just to love them and help them find it.  Even in the most smallest of ways.  And when we do, post it on Facebook no matter what it is, because all types of greatness deserve to be celebrated.

 

 

 

 

 

Stuck in the Middle

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Also titled, Am I Raising Darth Vader?

When my  babies were little I would hear everyone say Don’t wish it away.  It will fly by.  It was good advice and I’m glad I took it.  When my oldest was one, I moved onto 70th Avenue and it was full of young kids and hilarious moms.  We raised our babies together and spent countless hours discussing parenting and even a few weekend hours discussing beer choices.  (Jon and I are way more sophisticated in this area)  In the summer we would disappear to Michigan, stuffing a few adults and a thousand kids into a tiny cabin and have a great time.

I joined a MOPS group at church and met some life long friends there.  I was encouraged and validated in my parenting choices.  It seemed like there were so many ways for an extrovert like me to get filled up.  It was a really great time.

Those days are over for me and sometimes I really miss them.  Mostly because, as many of you mammas know, the middle years can really stink.  Literally and figuratively.  My 4 middle and high school kids can’t all seem to remember to put on deodorant and brush their teeth EVERY day and showering is like an act of treason, so there is a lot of nasty smells around.  Couple that with the excessive amounts of hormones which makes at least one person around here moody at all times, and yes, it can definitely stink.

I found myself on a walk last week spending the entire time trying to figure out how long I could survive my current existence.  Ok, if I can hold on for two more years, how old will they be?  Emily will be a senior and driving.  She can help with the incessant car pooling.  Surely all of them will finally be able to do their homework themselves, right?  Brush their teeth?  Clean a toilet?  How about four years?  Can I survive at this pace for that long?

I just really thought they would have gotten down at least basic hygiene by now.  I sometimes feel like I am still parenting children and also nurturing mini adults at the same time.  It is seriously the WEIRDEST season of parenting I have yet to be in.

Last night my son said I refuse to do my homework alone.  I just won’t do it until you sit by me and cuddle.  

Super cute.  But he did NOT need my help.  He just wanted me to sit by him like a four year old.

Then this morning I said You don’t need to drink coffee every day before school.

His reply? Dad does.  I’m a getting older mom.  You need to just get a grip on that.  And he got out of the car without even saying goodbye.

I’m just so confused.  They are like young Jedi.  The force is strong within them, but you just don’t know if they will go to dark side or stay in the light.  Please young babies, stay in the light.  I’ve put a lot of time, love, and energy into you.  I would rather you not grow up into Darth Vader.  Sometimes I actually dream they do become Darth Vader.  But at night there is still a child or two that comes into my room to sleep on the floor, so it could just be all the additional breathing in there.

Here were my ultimate goals for my children when they were first born:

  1. Love Jesus  – Although the heart of another person is never for me to fully understand, I’m thinking 2 1/2 out of 5 are a guarantee for life right now.
  2. Be kind – This one is tough.  Some days I’m running at a 0.0%.  That’s failure my friends.  Other times they overwhelm me with their compassion and grace and love.  Perhaps this is because they are still on the balance between childhood, a time of utter selfishness, and adulthood, oh wait, another time of selfishness.  I got nothing.  I’ve started to write down the kind and nice things they do to remind myself that Darth is not the only outcome.  And I also focus more on what they do outside of my house, because I do think that most people would say they are nice kids when not confined to these 4 walls.  Maybe my house is like prison.  Go to jail innocent and leave a criminal.  Hmmm….
  3. Be a productive member of society – Still walking the fence on this one.  They are smart and do well in school.  In addition, they are discussing and planning careers and colleges. But they seem unable to carry their freaking plate from the table to the dishwasher.  Also, they literally act like they would starve to death if someone was not here to feed them.  I have tried to teach them to cook, but the boys have both said Nah.  I’ll just go from you cooking for me to my wife cooking for me.  Please forgive me future daughter in laws.  I did not condone this behavior in any way.

These middle years have just filled me with confusion and doubt.  Some days I feel like we’ve made it and other times I want to just throw in the towel.  Am I too old to just start over?

I’m guessing with all those hormones raging that they are just as confused as I am.  So if they have to endure, I suppose I will too.  My saving grace is that, when they are not fighting or complaining, they are just about the most hilarious 5 people I have ever had the privilege of doing time with.  Who knows, maybe Darth Vader had a secret sense of humor that was only shown to his most privileged storm troopers.

So mammas in the middle, hang in there with me and try not to wish it away, like I have been occasionally often known to do.  And while you’re at it, if you could help me through this season by telling me when you see my kids being awesome.  Oh, and also telling them their breath smells or they have B.O., so that maybe, just maybe, they can be adults without hygiene problems.

 

The Zabrocki Christmas letter

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This is the best I had for a Christmas card picture.  It allowed me to release myself of sending out Christmas cards and instead just writing it on this blog.  I guess their behavior saved me a few bucks so I can be grateful, right?

 

 

Our year started off last December as Jon and I sat in Florida and did a workshop called “The Best Year Ever” where we set personal, family, and work goals for 2015.  We not only were able to achieve none of them, but we have no idea where those goals are right now and I can only remember one of them.

Emily is in her sophomore year of high school and finally understands the whole I study – I get good grades relationship.  It is a super win.  We no longer believe she will live with us forever.  She still does not clean her room, so we are holding out for a future hoarders episode, but I may be prone to panic in this area.  This was the year I learned to keep my mouth shut about things like her messy room, because really, do I want to have a good relationship with my teen or do I want to constantly follow her around saying Pick that up?  It was a tough decision, but I went with the first and I have discovered Emily is one of the most hilarious people I’ve ever met.  This year ends with me rejoicing in the fact that I finally have a good relationship with my daughter.  Now that friends, is a big win.

Faye is just amazing.  I don’t even know where to begin with that kid.  She almost died in January (she will be the first to tell you she did actually die for 3-5 minutes because she somehow takes great humor in that) however she is still our shining example of love, kindness, and hope.  Although she is not 100% recovered, her faith remains strong that it will all come back.  She is the living example of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who before being thrown into a blazing furnace said “the God we serve is able to deliver us from it and he will deliver us.  But even if he does not, we will not serve any other God.”  She can live with so much ease in the contradiction of believing 100% that God will heal her and believing 100% that if he doesn’t, he is still all good.  It is a lesson she teaches us every day.

Mesfin is taller than I am now.  He is such a kind kid.  Just can’t believe this amazing gift God placed into my life.  Sports totally dominate Mesfin’s existance.  He played soccer and basketball this fall, but basketball is his life. His current plans are to be in the NBA.  I hate to be a dream crusher so I just casually asked if he had a back up plan.  Nope, not yet.  I’m trying to encourage other possible life outcomes, but nothing is sticking quite yet.  That’s ok.  I’ve decided to just jump on his bandwagon and I show him pictures of houses online that he can buy me when he gets drafted.

Will is my doppelgänger.  He looks just like Jon, but I have literally reproduced myself.  Ironically, he bugs the crap out of me sometimes because he NEVER knows when to quit.  The teasing and the jokes just keep on going until someone freaks out on him.  This is an interesting flashback upon my childhood, as many people reacted to me in the same fashion.  I just keep telling the other kids Hey, you like me, don’t you?  He’ll mellow and be just like me as an adult.  Hang in there.  It’s worth it.  His current life plans are to get a business degree and be Mesfin’s manager in the NBA.  Lots of conversations about how he’s not going to mess it up like Derrick Rose’s brother Reggie, who is a sucky manager in case you didn’t know.

And at the end of the line up is Iris.  She is beyond funny and crazy and she never, ever, ever, ever stops talking.  That’s a lot of evers coming from another person that talks a lot, but she supersedes me in all areas of talking.  Iris is just another great blessing that somehow God fit perfectly right into this family.  She is so sweet and kind.  Her and Faye are great friends and they have plans of buying our house from us and living here together.  I believe they have construction blueprints drawn up and the first step is to eliminate Will’s room to make theirs larger.  I guess he doesn’t get to stay.

Jon and I have made it through 2015 stronger and better.  We discovered that we can do hard things.  Really hard things.  We may not be left unscathed, but we come out on the other side still residing in love.  For that I am beyond grateful.

As Christmas approaches I can’t help but think how many times Jon and I have said Let’s just get this year over with.  With all the truth in that statement, I still would not trade this year for anything.  Do I wish it was different?  No doubt.  But no one gets through life without pain and loss, and knowing that there will be joy on the other side is a great gift.

Psalm 27:13 says I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

I can say that we have lived this and seen it first hand.  The joy we will have just celebrating Christmas as a family is proof of this enough.

I wish you all a wonderful holiday.  And if you have kids with as much homework as mine, may you enjoy 14 days without it.  I know I will.

Jenny

 

Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love Divine,
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and Angels gave the sign.

-Christiana Rossetti

 

 

 

Hello Joy!

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Last Saturday morning began like all others.  Every kid had a event between 830 and 2, and Jon and I were going to spend the day driving them around.  But when I got just a brief moment alone in the car after the first drop off, I realized that there was something new inside me, something I hadn’t experienced in a long time.  I felt joy.  Not happiness.  Joy.  Just a complete sense of peace within my soul.  It was overwhelming.

Joy has been elusive this year.

Last January my daughter almost died.  It was the most traumatic experience I have ever been through.  It was surreal and the memories of giving her mouth to mouth and then watching a grown man on top of her in the ER doing chest compressions have haunted me like a demon.

When most people consider the word trauma they think of it as an event, a moment in time.  And where this is maybe how it begins, trauma is actually a noun.  It’s a thing, born out of an event, that lives, breathes, changes, and sometimes even consumes the person it settles into.

I can feel my trauma like I used to be aware of my babies inside me.  It is rooted down in there and holding on for life.  Most of the time I get to control it.  But sometimes it finds the power to rise up and shake me to the core.  Trauma puts you on the floor of aisle 2 in Trader Joe’s with your head between your knees or in the fetal position in a parking lot because you just can’t keep driving.  Trauma has power.

But here’s the thing about me.  I’m stubborn and a natural optimist.  And so when we finally got home after 89 days in the hospital, I made a commitment to myself that I was going to find joy in life again.

Because joy is worth fighting for.

I admit I was afraid.  I wondered if I would ever be able to move aside the fear of losing a child and live in the present moment.

And then there was this glaring question: Could Jesus restore my joy in the midst of the worst thing that has ever happened to me?

My faith wasn’t shaken and I never doubted God was still all good, however the only thing that overpowers trauma completely is JOY.  Crazy, no good reason, joy.  It’s different than happiness.  I can be happy for a day or a reason, but joy is about the soul feeling hope and amazement and fulfillment for no reason other than God is on our side.  And I just didn’t know if I could accept God’s sovereignty and find joy again.

It hasn’t come easy. I’ve had to fight for it.

I started by getting Xanax for those massive panic attacks. I needed a backup to help me get through them. And it worked.

I picked up my bible again. It was so hard. But once I got back into the word, God was able to speak to me again through it.

I did usual things like flying to Portland to visit a friend.  I was so afraid to leave my daughter, but I was even more afraid to never live life again.

And most importantly, I stopped praying for things to change and I started to just say thanks for the day.  As it turns out, we are all dying.  Not a day is ever guaranteed.  I almost did not get a single day of 2015 with my daughter so I refuse to not live them all with gratitude.

Gratitude brings about joy in the most amazing way.

And so does serving others.  So today I find myself boarding a British Airways plane to Kenya to help in a school for special needs kids. Yep, I’m a little scared. There could be a major catastrophe at home. But as I mentioned, we are all dying and deciding to live every day in the present, serving others is where my joy is.