I forgot to feed my daughter. And we sent her to a counselor.

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Living in a different country, in a village, where hardly any English is spoken is a bunch of fun. Especially when you forgot the differences of the beginning of the school year.

Things that are quite important like…

Oh, packing your daughter’s lunch for her.

You see. I forgot that they don’t start serving school lunches the first day of school. I even made sure to tell my husband, “Richard, make sure to go and pay for school lunches so Adelyne will have money on her account.”

So, Richard went to pay for lunches. The lunch lady said, “Oh, no worries. Pay by September 15th.”

And we thought, “Wow. What a relaxed country. How nice!”

Little did I remember (until well past lunch time) that they don’t serve school lunches that day.

AHHHH! Well, good thing I packed Adelyne a cookie to snack on. Oh, and Smarties because, after all, it was the first real day of school and I wanted to remind her to be a “Smarty”. Smarties are like M&Ms. Therefore, technically, she did have two things to eat. Both sugary. But I guess sugar worked well enough. She made it through the day 😉 And, yes, she came home HUNGRY.

To make it up to her, I had bought her favorite French pastries for her arrival home…apple! She was so happy to see them and devoured them quickly.

But forgetting her lunch was not all. Somehow, lost in translation, was the fact that she would need PE clothes to change in and out of.  She did, however, change her shoes from outside shoes to hallway shoes.

So, let me set this all straight:

She was the only student that did not have a lunch.

She also was the only student that did not change clothes after PE.

And she was the only student that DID change her shoes from outside shoes to hallway shoes back to outside shoes.

That’s it.  Three strikes.  We definitely struck out.

But in spirit and adventure and smiles, we still won.  Adelyne came home completely happy to have been at school and back amongst her friends in Poland.

Now for the counselor…

Before we returned to Poland, my husband and I were completely breathless, having near panic attacks, worried about Adelyne’s return to Poland.  After all, we had been living in the beautiful and glorious USA for the past year and a half.  That’s a very long time for a child.  Especially when you go from 1st grade to 3rd grade.  The maturity at 8 that was not there at 6 is astounding.  Her entire being is different now.  And school in Polish.  Eek!  The language is so difficult.

And, so, we, trying to be and ahead of the game parents, decided to set up a back-to-Poland counseling appointment.  Hoping that it would be 1 of 3 appointments.

We met with the counselor and spoke to her about our concerns and told her about Adelyne.  She was extremely perceptive.  Probably a great trait in a counselor, eh?  And we scheduled the time for her to meet one-on-one with the counselor.

Adelyne was told that she was going to meet a lady that she could share openly with her feelings about returning to Poland, or anything else that laid heavy on her heart.

She seemed okay with it.  So off we went.

Now, here’s the funny part, the lady that we sent Adelyne to is specifically a counselor for children.  She has toys and crafts and art supplies galore in her office so that the children can play and talk at the same time, keeping the atmosphere very safe for them.

Well, Adelyne decided to sit on the couch across from her and speak the entire time.  You see, Adelyne was an only child for 6 and 1/2 years.  And for that entire time, she has helped us build a foundation for the poor in Poland.  Meaning, she has spent the majority of her life in meetings or doing grown-up stuff.

The counselor was funny.  She said, “It’s the first time a child has sat on the couch the entire counseling session.  It made me a bit uncomfortable.”

Haha.  A piece of the counselor’s own medicine—being on the other side of the couch, eh?   (But I say that in respectful love because I truly believe greatly in good and Godly counseling and hold the utmost respect for the counselor herself)

Back to the counseling session.  Adelyne shared a lot.  The counselor after spoke with me about what was said and her advice on how Richard and I could help with the transition back to Poland.  Overall, it was a beautifully great and helpful session.

And with everything in my being, I had intended to take Adelyne in for 2 more sessions before our move back to Poland.

One session to address the difficulties Richard and I had in our marriage the past year that she was witness to.

The next how she felt when Maxwell was sick (Our son is a NICU and then later an ICU, blood transfusion, and coma survivor).

So, you see, there is a lot that a little 8 year old could share with a counselor.  And I had really wanted to get her back…

But life got in the way of my best intentions.  My husband was once again out of the country for a month.  I was packing and moving a house without him.  My daughter had daily dive lessons.  And I have 2 wee ones that were even wee-r at the time (if there is such a word).

All of this means we did not get back to the counselor despite my heart telling me it was so needed.

And then we went and did it.  Moved back to Poland.  And we began to settle back into our lives of living in a foreign country and all that entails (which is  lot on its own).

Happy, happy, happy has my daughter been.  And then it hit!

Bam!

Maxwell, our son, had a horrible allergic reaction to something.  His face swelled up, his eye was swelling closed, the red was creeping along his neck.

He looked horrible, felt horrible, and I began to panic.

Can he breathe?  What happened?  Did he touch something?  Did he eat something?

And then something even worse happened.

My daughter lost it.  She just sat there and cried and cried and cried.

I felt for her, but, at the moment, we had to take care of Maxwell (and the regime that comes with a horrible allergy attack) and then monitor him closely for about 20 minutes with our epi pens right next to us.  We were debating, do we call my brother, a fire captain and paramedic?  Do we call our brother-in-law, a doctor?  Do we call the Polish emergency number 1-1-2?  Do we ride it out?

Who knows if we made the best choice, but we made a choice that we felt was best.

And while Maxwell slowly started to improve, Adelyne started to dis-improve.  She melted.  Literally melted.

She climbed in my lap like a small child would and crumpled against my chest.  No matter how many times we tried to assure her that Maxwell was fine, she seemed unable to breathe peacefully.

And that’s when I got to the heart of her panic.

Laying flat against my chest with her legs curled up into my lap she said through her tears, “Do you know what it’s like to have your brother almost die on you?”

No.  She wasn’t talking about his allergy attack (as severe as it was), she was talking about when no one knew if Maxwell was going to live or die when he was a baby.

In the midst of something sad but not so extraordinary (although I don’t take allergic reactions lightly, especially with my nutty son), the past came back in a rush to my daughter, and I could tell the future will continue to hold a lot of healing.

And while we have epi pens for our son Maxwell, dealing with the heart of Adelyne may require a different kind of medicine.  Called time.  Love.  And lots of hugs.

Now, to end on a funny note.  As Adelyne was super sentimental about Maxwell’s horrible allergy reaction, she just wanted to cuddle her precious baby brother.

Max, on the other hand, kept kicking her away and tackling her and shouting, “Noooooo!”

Yes.  This did eventually make the waterworks worse.

But, truly, isn’t that what brothers are for?!

 

You may be the only Bible some will ever read…

Today, my mom and dad, Maxwell, and I went to a little church in the mountains of Pinetop, Arizona.  And the guest preacher was an 18-year-old kid fresh in college.

And, boy howdy, was he a HOOT!

First of all…He was 18.  It looked as if I could be his mother!

Second of all…he was so funny.  But maybe not always on purpose 🙂

Lastly…although his sermon was as fresh as he himself was, it was awesome and from the heart.

I’d like to share a bit what I learned from this young chap today:

His sermon was on optimism and pessimism.  And his reminder was that we may be the only Bible that some may ever read.

So he asked us, the congregation hanging on to every word from this adorable boy…

How do you react when in a situation that is unfair or unjust?

How do you react when you are mistreated or disrespected?

How do you react when things do not go your way?

How do you react when life serves you tragedy and not always triumph?

And it does give you a lot to think about.  Truly.

How do I react to situations in my life that were not of my choosing or not in my control or not pleasing to me?

Because, after all, I may be the only Bible some will ever read.

The next thing he stated really painted a visual picture that shows unfathomable pain…

A friend of his was in a tragic plane accident that killed his father (his friend’s father).  And his friend, himself, was burned over 40% of his body.  He had to go through months of excruciating and painful healing and skin grafting.

And his friend shared this with him…

You have to remove the old skin in order to not receive infections and to heal.  You also need this removal so that they can graft skin from other parts of your body to replace the old skin with new.

BUT…you have to use a hard wire brush and have the old skin scrubbed off of you.  You have to be scrubbed.  Raw.  In order to have a chance to heal.

This made me think…it’s so true in life.  Often, we have to be scrubbed raw to rid ourselves of what it is that is keeping us from being healthy.  We have to be scrubbed raw, sometimes, in order to be brought to restoration and healing.

And it’s not pretty.

And it’s not pain free.

But it’s necessary.

And only when the dead and infectious skin is gone.  Only then can we be given new skin.  Only then can we begin to heal.

Perhaps this is why sometimes people don’t heal.  Because it’s a wire brush.  It’s a scrubbing.  It bares their very soul raw.  And it hurts.

Perhaps this is why many cover what is infectious with ways to mask their pain?

But, he went on to share, when his friend went through all of his unfathomable pain and re-grafting of skin…only then was his friend able to heal.  And only then was his friend able to leave the hospital.  And only then was his friend able to live, once again.

You know…Today’s message was brought about by a kid with dirt still behind his ears.  But what he shared was from his heart—and it went straight into the hearts of all those of us listening.

I hope it resonates in yours, too.

Let me end with this…

As he was praying at the end, he said, “Dear Lord, Thank you for helping me not pass out today!”

And we, the audience, lost it!  Good thing his sermon and church were over.

We were left with a lot to think about…and a good laugh to leave.

Friends, you’re never too young to let God use you in great ways.

And you’re never too DEAD to allow him to help you be scrubbed raw…and healed.

And don’t forget…You actually may be the only Bible some will ever read!

Holding on…Is it Defeat or Victory?

I left for Bible study this morning thinking…I don’t really need this study.  It’s not really for me.  I’ll go for the awesome food (remember I’m totally preggo here) and fellowship.  My sister-in-law and a couple of my best girlfriends are in the group.

And off I went…not in need of anything.  Just going to chill and have some girl laughter and a great time.

We’re looking at the study Unglued by Lysa TerKeurst (You can find it here: http://lysaterkeurst.com/2012/08/surprise-watch-week-1-of-the-unglued-bible-study)

And then in class the unfortunate happened.

One question was asked.

It’s funny.  When I went about answering the question in my participant’s guide, previous to today, I knew my answer wasn’t right, but I never realized how WRONG my answer really was.

You see, I’ve already shared in a previous blog post that my/our marriage is not only NOT perfect, but we have struggled to survive.  If you haven’t read that post, here’s the reference to it: http://wp.me/p3Bh9m-8C

The real problem, however, is the fact that I am holding on to something and not letting go because that makes me feel victorious.

What?  You ask.  Because now you are confused.

You are in a marriage.  Shame on you.  There should not be winners and losers.

Okay.  Okay.  I get it.

But, please, give me a moment.  Hear me out.

I am holding on to the one thing my husband has asked of me, “Brooke, please fully forgive me.”

And I have told him that I accept his apology.

And we have received some powerful help.

And we are studying God’s Word daily together.

And our lives as a married couple really are healing so beautifully.

And I have never seen so much grace or mercy extended from my husband in our nearly 13 years of marriage.

BUT…

What he’s really asked of me is not for me to only accept his apology.  Get help together.  Continue to grow in the Word of God together.  And appreciate the grace and mercy that he is learning to extend…

What he’s really asking me is to forgive him.

You see, I have been holding onto this question that he asked of me for nearly a year now.

Why?

Why?  Because it gives ME control for once in our marriage.

I have the key to healing in our marriage—and it’s whether or not I fully forgive my husband.

And I REALLY like the fact that for once, I am the one that appears to have the upper hand.

But what hit me in the gut today was that holding on to this last key piece of healing in our relationship does not make me the victor.  It does not make me the person with the keys.  It has and is making me the slave…

See, I have felt for nearly the past year that if I give in to his question and forgive my husband—then I will have waved the white flag and surrendered defeat.  As if to say, “What you did—how I have been hurt—it’s all over now.  We’re all good.”  Thumbs up.

And I haven’t wanted to do that.

I’ve been hurt.

And I have wanted to hold onto that.

And forgiving my husband—that means that I have accepted it.  Right?

Wrong.

What I realized today is not that I have to accept how I’ve been hurt.

Forgiving my husband is not accepting defeat.

A synonym according to Merriam Webster online is Absolution.

Forgiving my husband is…setting free…

It’s funny.  I typed in forgiveness in the Google Search Engine, and one of the top posts is from the Mayo Clinic.  Here is the reference: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/forgiveness/MH00131

It specifically speaks on how forgiveness is actually good for you.

Of course, the Bible has taught this for thousands of years, but just because something has been taught for thousands of years doesn’t make it any easier.

And just because one of the most highly regarded clinics in the world claims its health benefits, doesn’t make it any easier.

Forgiveness comes down to one key and monumental decision.

Surrender.

What?  I’m confused again.  You just said that you didn’t want to surrender.  You didn’t want to accept defeat.

No.

I was wrong.

Surrender does not mean that I have waved a white flag proclaiming defeat.  In fact, just the opposite.

Surrendering to my “need” or “desire” to hold on to forgiveness and actually extending forgiveness to my husband does not make me smaller or weak.

It actually makes me strong.

Here’s a small excerpt from the Mayo Clinic on forgiveness (found from the same link mentioned above):

What is forgiveness?

Generally, forgiveness is a decision to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge. The act that hurt or offended you might always remain a part of your life, but forgiveness can lessen its grip on you and help you focus on other, positive parts of your life. Forgiveness can even lead to feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you deny the other person’s responsibility for hurting you, and it doesn’t minimize or justify the wrong. You can forgive the person without excusing the act. Forgiveness brings a kind of peace that helps you go on with life.

Let me restate that last line for you…

Forgiveness brings a kind of peace that helps you go on with life.

That’s what I need, friends.

Perhaps it’s what you need too.

I’ve been holding onto whether or not I will forgive my husband so that I will feel strong.

But I haven’t felt strong at all.

Now…Now, however, I feel well.

And it’s time for us (Rich/me) to feel well together.   It’s time that we receive together the “peace that lets us go on with our lives.”  Together.

And I know that is what God asks of us.  Heck, it is what God has extended himself to us.   I understand that it-forgiveness-is not just a good thing.  It’s a great thing. It’s a God thing.

I learned today that what I thought was already taking place in our marriage, healing, wasn’t really taking place like it really could.  Like it really should.

Now.  From this day forth, however, it will.  Healing in full.

Healing because I have not waved the flag of defeat but I instead am choosing to wave the flag of forgiveness.

Victory.

Man, what an awesome flag that is!

Philippians 1:6
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you (me), will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. (NLT)

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