Up and Down

Honestly, I feel like my life these days is just an endless series of ups and downs.  Perhaps it is truly like that for everyone?  Having struggled with depression in my past, I know what it is like to feel like my emotions are on a roller coaster, but these days the ups and downs are not from my own emotions, but truly from our circumstances.  I am praying and working through how to not respond to those ups and downs with roller coaster emotions. It’s tough as many of you know.

This past week was really one of pure bliss.  We were still getting back into the swing of things, catching up on laundry, dishes, housecleaning, etc.  And we were getting the kids back on a good schedule and really just laying low around the house.  But it was a quiet, simple week.  I often found myself being very purposeful about sitting down with my kids and playing with them.  I mean like, really playing with them.  We had dance parties in the kitchen, played with “sea creatures” in our homemade aquarium on the porch, and had lot’s of little friends over.

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Homemade aquarium with sea creatures and glass rocks in an empty dish tub… I have never gotten so much mileage out of $3 worth of supplies! RSH 0033

Jude’s BFF Abby

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She wouldn’t stop saying “Baby!” over and over and over again.  And she said it with a French accent, which was even cuter… bebe!

I had been feeling rather convicted over the past few months about my cell phone use around the kids.  I don’t mean talking on the phone too much, but rather the aimless clicking of buttons, just “checking in” on facebook, pinterest, email, etc that really accomplished nothing except making me disconnected from what was happening in “meatspace”.  For whatever reason, perhaps the healing that happened on our vacation, I found myself feeling motivated and refreshed with energy to try to focus on “what matters”.  For me, what matters is the life right in front of me, not the life I picture on staged pictures and carefully crafted status updates all around the interwebs.  Now don’t get me wrong, I still do my fair share of surfing and gathering fun ideas, but for whatever reason, I really felt motivated this week to focus on putting the phone down, heck even putting the laundry down (that’s obviously not as hard for me!) and focus on my husband, my kids, just being present.

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Yes, Evie is eating a green onion.  The whole thing.

I had countless moments of sitting on our porch swing, reading a REAL BOOK and listening to the birds, sirens, and other sounds of our neighborhood. I had moments where I felt like a “good mommy” (whatever THAT is), where things were really just “flowing” from one activity to the next, the kids were actually picking up the messes we made, and we went whole hours without someone in timeout!  The weather had been lovely and breezy, and I really felt like things were going to be okay.

We got ready to go to Kevin’s appointment on Wednesday where he would be instructed on how to give himself his interferon shots, and that would have marked the beginning of our next phase of treatment, which is to last for the next year.  But wouldn’t you know it, the appointment was scheduled for Tuesday, and we had missed it!  I’ll be honest, I wasn’t TOO broken up about it, knowing we had inadvertently bought ourselves another week of hopefully him feeling better.  Like I said, things were looking good.

Then the weekend started.  I had volunteered to help out a friend who runs an urban baseball program for middle school students, through Fellowship of Christian Athletes.  It was the program’s big championship tournament, end of season banquet, and keynote speaker.  I had signed up to photograph the event from 10-6.  Kevin and I had worked out an elaborate back and forth with the kids so they could enjoy some of the games, he could help out for some banquet set up stuff, and the kids could still get naps.  We only live a few minutes away from the ball field, so this all seemed pretty doable.  We generally try not to have such “complicated” days, because I’m just not that good at handling it, but it seemed pretty doable, and we both are frankly so sick of always needing everybody else’s help for stuff that we were excited to be able to be doing the helping for a change.

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Enjoying the game with “bebe” and “monkey”

But then there was my back.  It had been bothering me a little through the week, and I’d been thinking that I needed to go to the chiropractor, but so far hadn’t made it over.  Squatting up and down, splaying myself out on the ground, and hanging off the backs of fenceposts to get good shots was quickly making my back pain go from mildly irritating to almost intolerable.

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Getting down low for shots like these is HARD, but worth it!

Then Kevin got sick in the middle of the day.  We don’t know why, but he still has nausea that just kind of comes out of nowhere, and if you remember the last time you had the stomach flu, food poisoning, or motion sickness, it’s an icky feeling that’s almost impossible to ignore and push through.  So that put Kevin out for the count right in the middle of the day.

Still, I was putting on my “Pollyanna” attitude, and determined to keep a positive outlook, knowing I was doing something I enjoyed, was good at, AND was helping out a friend.  Both Kevin and I pushed through and made it through the day, tired, but still feeling pretty content.

Then we woke up Sunday morning.  We got up before the kids and were enjoying a quiet Sunday morning, reading books and drinking our coffee in the living room.  Then we felt rain.  In our living room.  And we looked up and saw this.

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Seriously!  I mean seriously!  A leak in our ceiling!  And I know it’s not super clear from this picture, but the water damage along the seam is at least three feet long.  How did that happen overnight?!  Our friends Tim and Jeff came over to assess the damage and figure out a way to stem the bleeding.  It turned out that the leak was from a skylight that our contractors had installed last fall.  Ugh.  I’ve refrained from talking too much about our contractor and home renovation woes, but seriously, it’s been a horrendous, nightmare situation.  About half of the experience was great, and the other half totally sucked.  They cut corners in lot’s of places, were delayed numerous times, and some things I finally gave up trying to get them to fix and just figured it out with my dad.

But I discovered about two months ago that they didn’t do a big thing that we’d paid them to do, on top of lot’s of little things.  The owner of the company didn’t return my calls, emails, and text messages for over seven weeks.  Then, when he came out, he flatly refused, saying that it wasn’t part of the job for him to do this thing I needed to discuss with him.  He agreed to a few other small repairs, but still hasn’t shown up to do them.  I texted my project manager from the company yesterday morning as soon as we discovered the leak was from the skylight, and I’ve received no response in over 24 hours.  I’ve finally come to the realization that I need to handle this from a legal standpoint, and am headed to the courthouse today.  I’m totally discouraged about it, because I truly believed these guys ran a good company and would do the things that they should have done to make it right.  It’s also WAY outside my comfort zone to do something like this, plus I really have no idea exactly what I’m doing.

So yeah, that was my morning Mother’s Day present.  Luckily Kevin had another awesome present for me, a cruiser bike that he’d gotten from the Beltline Bike Shop, a neighborhood ministry run by the same friends who helped with the roof.  I can’t wait to get a bike trailer hooked up to it and take the kids around.  But on this Sunday morning, it was raining, so there was no bike riding and only a big fat leak that had destroyed my living room ceiling.  We barely made it to church, I with giant circles around my eyes from exhaustion and crying.  During the worship time, the kids were just a mess, they must have been over tired from their big day yesterday.  Evie wouldn’t stop asking to be picked up, then wriggling to get down, over and over again.  Jude kept begging for his pacifier, his blanket, my iPhone.  I was pretty much at the end of my rope, had tied a knot, and was hanging on.

Our friend Jeff could tell I was losing it, I think, because he came over and scooped up Evie and disappeared with her to the back of the church.  I couldn’t have been more grateful.  I didn’t have the energy to sing.  I just listened to the words, “What Can Wash Away My Sin?  Nothing But the Blood of Jesus.  What Can Make Me Whole Again?  Nothing But the Blood of Jesus.”  I thought about what those words meant to me.  Could Jesus’ blood truly wash me white as snow?  Could it truly wash my troubles away, like the heavy rain outdoors was washing away the kids’ chalk?  I lost it and just started crying.  I cried and cried and cried.  Kevin put his arms around me, and amazingly, Jude quit begging me for that stupid pacifier and just sat quietly.

I bawled like I haven’t bawled in a while, feeling sorry for myself, sorry for Kevin, mad at the world, mad at the stupid contractors, mad that we just seem to keep getting attacked again and again and again.  Frankly, I was mostly just feeling sorry for myself.  But the church just kept singing those beautiful old hymns, and Kevin just kept his arm wrapped tight around me, and I imagined God’s arms wrapped tight around both of us, the heavenly angels singing songs of praise.  Sometimes I wonder how much of my faith is just imagination and creativity in my mind.  I know a lot of Christians wouldn’t say something like that, but truly I have moments of doubt pretty much constantly throughout the day.  I pray to God and I wonder, Are You really real?  I mean, really really real?  Or are you just my made up imaginary friend?

But in moments like these, where God sends friends from out of nowhere to rescue you from your clingy, overtired babies, and words of truth to ring in your ears.  It’s in those moments that I realize, there will be ups and downs and God may not wash my troubles away like I wish that He would, but through His body, He WILL hold me and carry me and send me exactly what I need, exactly when I need it.

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4 thoughts on “Up and Down

  1. Love this blog. Rachel, God has you in His hands and His children is there for you. I’m thankful that you have a loving, caring, helping church and friends and family. Satan always tries to tear that away. Take a deep breath, look around and keep telling yourself He is in control, and He will fix it!
    I’m glad you are taking the pictures of the ceiling too. You will need these for court. And I do feel the same as you when it comes to court, it’s not in my comfort zone either. Hang in there. Wish I could give you some peace. Love all the pictures. Love you too!!!!

  2. Hi Rachel:
    Yep – life is full of ups and downs-just got to roll with it and not get stuck in
    either an “up” or a “down”. Little Jude looks like he could use some loven –
    it is so hard to be replaced by a younger sibling – especially one so cute and
    charmng as Evie – she is a beauty.

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