Category Archives: Anxiety

It’s Complicated

And so begins the writing debrief…

Another extreme event with Summer…

Kris is away with half the family at Wilson’s Promontory at the moment. I’m home with the girls. I come and go this time of year, to be with both parts of the family. We can’t have Summer at Wilson’s Promontory. It’s way too hard. So I have to split my time. Lots of work goes into planning Summer’s care when we are away. Carers and family that help do a great job. And for a while Summer enjoys the holiday and space and attention, but then she also misses family. I suspect she’s anxious about Kris not being around. My best guess.

This morning we had a new carer – second shift with the girls. Summer wanted me, so I helped her most of the time. Sarah was happy to have the new carer. Mostly smooth morning. Being a Sunday, we were getting ready for church. When it was nearly time to go, I gave Summer the appropriate warnings, at reducing intervals, then it was really time to go. She didn’t want to leave the computer. That’s normal. Normal resistance. But we got there in the end. In the car.

I had forgotten to tell our children’s coordinator at church that we would be there, so I knew the special needs room would be locked. That’s OK, I would find someone with a key and all should be well. I hoped. I got Sarah to bring extra toys in case there weren’t any there. And I packed Summer’s favourite toys in a bag. Big mistake!

In the car, just before we arrived at church, Summer opened the bag and saw her favourite toys and cracked it. She was fuming and refusing them and shouting and throwing them. Then she was stomping on them. I said, don’t break them, I can’t fix them. That got her attention for a brief few seconds, then it was back to stomping. I gradually rescued all the toys once we parked, but I got wacked in the process. Thankfully I had had the foresight to park with ample space on Summer’s side between us and the next car, so she couldn’t slam open the door onto the neighbouring car. (Mind you she did try at one point)! At first she decided to stay in the car and lunge for the car horn. Beeeeeeep. Beeeeeep! I stopped her. Then she did it again. A man walked past to get to church and kindly invited her to come inside. She shook her head with her agitated mood. He smiled and continued on. I was grateful for his demeanour!

I tried leaving the car several times, to give her space, but she would return to horn honking. So I just sat in the car quietly and waited. Eventually she got out. I took a breath…

I knew the next steps were risky and I prayed for grace.

She entered the church. We were ten minutes into the singing time. She walked down the middle aisle to the front of the church and stood and looked at me defiantly, questioningly. She knows she’s not allowed on the stage. She stood in the front area. I hopped into an empty pew in the third row and joined in the worship time, with my eyes open most of the time. I hoped that she would settle, as she saw me happy worshipping, and not giving her negative attention. It looked like it might work, her face relaxed a bit. But then she was agitated again and edged to the stage with one foot on the step. Looking at me, waiting for my reaction. I calmly shook my head and she kept testing.

The worship rose. I heard the congregation lift. A friend later confided in me, that she felt the congregation knew what was going on, and pressed in deeper with worship in response. I felt it at the time too. I did the same. My friend was praying for me.

Summer edged up the steps. I moved to the front row. I knew that I couldn’t go up to her, as she was agitated with me and this would escalate her. All I could do was stay calm and wait. I took the iPad out of my handbag and silently offered it to her, knowing it wouldn’t work. She shook her head. She climbed up the steps and stood next to one of the singers. It was Rian. She was an angel and smiled at Summer, put her arm around her and allowed her to stand there and kind of feel like she was sharing the microphone. Summer smiled.

While this was going on, Renee led the worship beautifully, pressing in more. She prayed at the end an inspired prayer, thanking God and acknowledging the beauty and differences among us. (Something like that). I was touched.

Ps Dan came up and began to lead the service. He seemed to take it all in his stride and just calmly went about talking. I have no idea what he said. I was fixated on Summer. Summer stayed there, next to Renee. Renee tried to encourage her to go down, but Summer shook her head with that expression on her face again. Renee backed off and waited. Smart. Then she had a brilliant idea. She bribed Summer with the microphone and was able to lead her off the stage, with the promise of holding the microphone. That got her all the way to the special needs room corridor. She let her keep the microphone for a bit. And thankfully the sound guys had turned it off.

Rian came soon after and beautifully requested the microphone back. We patiently waited and conversed, then Summer finally gave it back. All good.

Then the room.

Summer wanted to come back to the main auditorium. No way hosay! Not happening. Not taking the risk again right now! So I blocked her way. This agitated her of course. She kept trying to get past me. I kept blocking. She was fixated. I tickled her toward the special needs room. This got her moving, but didn’t improve her mood of course. She banged the door. It was a door with two glass panes. Then she kicked the bottom pane and it did a spider web smash, staying intact, but cracks everywhere. Oh my!

I got her inside the special needs room and spoke firmly to her. I emphasised words like dangerous, blood and hospital. She became fixated on the door. Sarah and the carer were in the room trying to play a game. Eventually Sarah decided it would be more peaceful for her and the carer to play outside. But she couldn’t exit with Summer in the way of the door. I had to grab Summer’s wrists and drag her out of the way. Sarah got out. Summer came straight back and was kicking the frame of the door. And touching the glass, threatening to push it, watching for my reaction.

It’s such a complicated dance with Summer, trying to stay calm, trying to divert when possible, trying to prevent the glass shattering on the ground and trying to stop her banging the door (which could probably be heard in the main auditorium).

It felt like a lose, lose situation. By intervening, I heightened her and prolonged the episode. But by withdrawing, I ran the risk of a dangerous situation. And the problem was she knew she could get my attention by banging. And I couldn’t just ignore the banging, when the church could probably hear it.

So for the next 15-20 minutes I oscilatted between intervening and withdrawing, intervening and withdrawing. In the process I was hit multiple times, kicked multiple times. She attempted to bite me. She spat on me.

In the midst of this I cried out to God…

“For all of this suffering, for every moment of abuse God, I ask that you multiply my fruitfulness, that more of the oppressed would be set free, that many many others would be brought to wholeness and breakthrough, that your grace and anointing would be multiplied. Use this God for your purposes and glory!”

I knew heaven listened. I know my prayer has been answered.

Eventually Summer agreed to going home. I couldn’t risk going back through the auditorium. I had to get Summer to go outside via the oval to the carpark. We went outside, we walked past the oval. We did it!

Unfortunately the gate to the carpark was locked. Of course it was locked. It is supposed to be locked. Dang!

We went back. I suggested we go around the buildings another way to get to the carpark. Instead Summer decided to go towards the classrooms. She tried every door. And with every door I felt anxiety rise – “what if a door had been accidentally left open?” I stayed close. And every door was locked thankfully. Except for one, towards the auditorium. I was right there and put my foot on the bottom of the door, not allowing it to open. I saw Carlo preaching. I was bummed I couldn’t listen.

We eventually got to the carpark. We got to the car. We got in. We went home. I told Summer she was going to be put in time out.

At home Summer saw the cat and picked it up. That made it easy to get her to the bathroom to go to the toilet. (I had to jump that hurdle before I put her in time out. Otherwise she would deliberately wet in her room. And that would be more work. I needed a break).

Once in her room, we let the cat go. Time for discipline. And I had very, very firm words with her. Three things.

  1. Summer do not go on the stage
  2. Summer do not break windows
  3. Summer do not hurt mummy

And as an aside, please note:

  1. It sounds like this happens more frequently than it does. This was an extreme situation.
  2. I’ve become adept at blocking her aggression so I’ve never been seriously hurt.

In conclusion:

It could have been fine. I just wanted to go to church.

I don’t want to stay home. I don’t want to stop Summer from going to church because it is too hard. I am grateful for an understanding church community, but I don’t want to cause too many problems. It’s a complicated balance.

Next week Summer and Sarah will be at a respite house for the weekend. We do this once a month. I can relax.

After that Kris will be back. It’s easier at church when Kris is there.

We will also be aiming for two paid carers at church. One for Summer. One for Sarah. I hope it works. I’ve done the rostering already.

So here I am at home. I aim to rest. Another carer is with the girls. They are playing ‘schools and teachers’. It’s going great.

I am both unemotional, and also ready to cry at the drop of the hat. I am used to this, but it takes a toll on my body.

I need to rest. But the rest never feels like enough.

I tell you what! My trust in God is being forged! I can’t solve all these problems. Summer’s behaviour. My health. All I can do is trust. It sounds like a nice pad ending, to finish a blog. But it’s my reality. The last six months have often not made sense. I’ve wrestled with God. I’ve been frustrated. And I came to the point where I decided, that I didn’t care what my life looked like. I was going to trust God regardless. I’ve had a hissy fit against obstacles. I DON’T CARE. I’M GOING TO TRUST MY GOD. God knows what he is doing. He knows how to lead me. And I trust his leadership.

And that is my strength. And that is my joy. And that is my breakthrough!

Four Glimpses of Possible

God gives me glimpses of things. Of what is possible. Of what it would feel like to be transformed by him in some specific way…

  1. How it feels to have absolute peace in my gut and how this dissolves stress in those around me
  2. How it feels to react with powerful love instead of anxiety in stressful situations
  3. How it feels to have an absence of pride
  4. How it feels to have body and mind vitality, through eating the right diet for me

These glimpses have been momentary, but profound. Tastes of what is possible. So now I’m wrecked for anything less. How can you be satisfied with the ordinary when you’ve experienced freedom in a certain area?

I’ve heard countless sermons about having peace, of having love, of having humility and of eating right. But nothing has motivated me like the experience of feeling the momentary freedom of what it is actually like to live in this zone. Honestly it became real, incredible, beyond my ordinary dreams of what is possible. They say Jesus is the best. Haha he actually is. And way better than you think.

So what do the ravings of this Jesus loony amount to? How did the glimpses happen? What did they feel like? OK one at a time…

  1. Peace in my gut

With five kids, two with special needs, the stress was extreme and had impacted my body to breakdown point. I lost my energy, like someone pulled the plug. My husband stopped work to take care of the kids while I tried to recover. After six weeks he couldn’t cope so we reached out for a DHHS package for carer support. Six months later we were operating with carers in the home 15 hours per week. My husband was back at work. But the stress didn’t disappear. And I was in a weakened state to handle it.

It got to the point, where wise advise from a close family member was to put Summer (our middle daughter with moderate intellectual disability and autism) in a home for 6-12 months so we could recover.

I was desperate. A dear saint urged me to rest in Jesus.

So I determined to try.

I sat in my lounge chair. I was too tired to pray. I just shut my eyes and sank down deep into a posture of rest. But different from normal. I imagined myself resting in Jesus. And then I remember that Jesus has no weights for me, but wants to unburden me. Then I relax deeper, with relief that I didn’t have to strive. Then I start to laugh and cry and laugh and cry. It just kept bubbling out. My friends call it craughing.

I did this on and off for three days. I would feel myself getting filled with feelings of relief, and of spiritual living water going inside my gut. Hard to imagine I know. It wasn’t long periods of time. I would get distracted, then concentrate again and do the inner posture of resting in Jesus. Trying to do this did nothing. It was when I knew Jesus was my rest, that the faith switch went on, and then the craughing would start. So good!!!

After three days, I felt peace in my gut. It felt wonderful. I can’t describe what a relief that feeling was. All I remember is always feeling uptight in my middle. But I couldn’t find any uptight feeling, even though I was looking hard for it. Just peace. And this feeling of living water.

So then the kids came home and I braced myself. No help from carers or hubby that night. How would I cope! Well the kids came in all manic, bubbling over through the door. They came near me and I watched their energy dissolve. They became settled and at peace without me saying a word. I’ll never forget that. I’ve read about that. But I actually experienced it.

That’s what I need every day. God give me that glimpse back. God help me build that as consistent reality.

  1. Love overflowing without any striving

Another day, I’d had a full-on hour managing Summer in the context of a car trip with all five kids, after an outing in the city where Summer refused to go back to the car. Then I got home and the three youngest ones were full-on. I felt the stress and anxiety peaking. This battle started raging inside me. I was at ‘too much’ point. My mind was telling me to go upstairs and hide and tell my husband I’d had enough. But something in my spirit was battling this. I felt it. I stayed put, feeling and watching the inner battle from outside myself. My inner spirit was wanting to overcome. It was wanting to rise above the status quo of stress overload. This almighty groan emerged from deep within me, shocking me and my kids. And I burst forward to the kids with arms outstretched and blurted out ‘I love you Summer’. And then I poured love out all over the three kids. I felt filled with immense joy and love. I was overflowing, without stress or anxiety. The situation was transformed. I was transformed. I didn’t have to rest and recuperate from stress. I was energised and inspired.

I need and want this all the time. The status quo is so ordinary. This was extraordinary.

  1. Absence of pride

When living in Sydney I had this moment. Totally unplanned. I felt the absence of pride. I know that sounds weird. But it was very distinct. I had an immense clarity of mind and uncluttered panoramic vision. I could see far and wide in my spirit, without cloudedness or confusion. I realised in this moment that this was the space I needed to live in, in order to make wise decisions in ministry and if I ever wanted to lead effectively in any sphere. I willed the clarity to stay. But after maybe 5-10 seconds it left and I went back to my immersion in my own personal level of pride. Which as a continual presence, becomes unnoticed and normal. But now I noticed it. This robber. This thief. This pride! How I despised it and wanted it gone. It clouded my vision. I couldn’t see very far ahead. The difference was immense. Like trying to walk in a fog.

This experience prompted me to pray on three occasions in my life for God to do whatever it would take to get rid of pride. Within a day or week after praying each of these prayers, I subsequently experienced the three most humbling, difficult and painful events/seasons of my life. One day I may share these stories. One of these was the adrenal crash I have referred to. This was the least painful.

Before praying the second time, I experienced the glimpse of the absence of pride again. It was in our ensuite in Dingley Village. In that moment I recalled the glimpse I had experienced years earlier and savoured the moment, wishing it would stay forever. That gave me the courage and motivation to pray the second time for God to get rid of any remaining pride. I wanted to live in that space. I don’t want to live in any other.

I have learned much, but I am still on the path.

  1. Body and mind vitality

God led me on a fast. I hate fasting. I get really grumpy when I don’t eat. And I can’t afford to be a grumpy mum. The demands are strenuous enough without adding that in the mix. So I decided I would fast everything except fruit and vegetables.

After one week, I felt amazing. I guess it was like a de-tox. But I was starving. I did a little complaint to the Holy Spirit about this and I felt him say to add rice. I was happy. For the next two weeks I had rice and fruit and vegetables. I felt full and I felt great. Then in the last week unexpectedly I felt him say to add meat, then a few days later to add eggs, then on the last day to add cheese.

My body felt clean on the inside. It felt refreshed. My mind felt clear and uncluttered. I felt alive in my body.

The day after I finished the fast, I concluded that God never let me eat flour or sugar.

I decided I would like to continue eating like this.

I failed and went back to my old ways. But I never forgot how good I felt and have wanted it ever since.

Last year I gave up flour (mostly) and made it a lifestyle. It’s now normal for me. Then in November I watched ‘That Sugar Film’ and that gave me the impetus to drop sugar. I went cold turkey and I don’t want to go back. I love being sugar free. My emotions are lighter. No depressed feelings. My head is less clouded. No cravings.

Big wins dropping flour and sugar. But I still need to have a higher proportion of vegetables, to experience the reality of the earlier fast where God taught me how to eat. Isn’t he smart. He knows my body better than any doctor. And he knows yours too. We are all different.

So I’m not fully there yet, but I’m on the path. I’m seeing change. I’m building one step at a time. And the glimpse is becoming a reality.

Conclusion

So just recently I had this awesome thought. God has given me glimpses of magnificence spiritual transformations – peace, love and absence of pride. Maybe, just maybe, these also can become my everyday reality, rather than one-off tantalising experiences.

If I follow the logic of the food experience, then it is just a matter of taking small steps every day, in order to build a lifestyle, which then becomes my everyday experience. I can do this!

So I’m starting with the peace in the gut. I’m practicing this every day – 20 minutes X 3. This is doable. I already have 20 X 3 as my normal rest routine, which I have been practicing for years. Now I just add Jesus to the rest in this same routine.

I’m going to win. I’m going to overcome. God has shown me how. And I just have to decide to do it – and I have – and then do the hard yards – and I am.

I’m going to be the peace queen. Not a pride statement here haha. Just a joy statement. Hehehehehehe. The peace queen!

And then wait until I become the love lady.

And then – wow – the absence of pride. I don’t know to walk that journey yet. I’m praying God builds humility more and more. He can do it. He can. He can. He doesn’t give glimpses for nothing.

It’s awesome walking with Jesus. He knows the path. And his path is brilliant and full of surprises that are out of this world. He gives glimpses to keep us going.

What glimpses does he have for you? What is he wanting to build in you? What has he done already?

Love to all

Summer’s Doggy Heaven

There is not a day that goes past that I don’t feel a sigh of relief, looking at the epitome of tolerance – Rupert – Summer’s doggy best friend.

This dog is a gem I tell you. Everyday he gets head-locked by Summer and held at ransom for long periods of time. He just takes it. He lies still while Summer rubs her face in his fur, strokes his ears, pulls his tail, squeezes his middle, leans all over him. He gets a lot of loving. And if Rupert tries to leave, Summer grabs his collar or his leg and bosses him back into position. She is strong. Rupert is very strong too. But Summer has managed to work out how to keep him.

That alone earns Rupert his keep every single day. And it happens multiple times every day. It’s very comforting for me as a mum to see this. Sometimes Summer just needs some time to re-focus, re-energise and have space from others. Rupert is a safe place for her. He is a walking, breathing therapy tool. In those moments where she is with Rupert, she is not melting down from overload, she is not getting agitated by noise or movement. She is in a happy place.

We often deliberately bring Rupert for car trips, as she loves to hug him. This makes the car trip peaceful, except for occasional demands for me to join in the hug fest while driving. It can also get problematic if Sarah is in the car, and Summer pulls Rupert to herself. Sarah knows how to express her mind and boy does she do that!

Rupert is an awesome blessing to the whole family. Stress relief and fun for everyone. Josiah loves having him sleep in his room overnight. (Summer can’t have him, as we can’t trust her unsupervised with him for that length of time. She might pull his ears and hurt him). Micah can’t decide whether he loves me more or Rupert more. He thinks he might love Rupert more. Rupert is always coming up to me and laying his head on my feet or jumping on the bed to lie next to me. (Yes we gave up the ideal of no dogs on couches or beds, after the trainer told us it was good for autistic kids to have the dog next to them on the couch etc. So I get an extra cleaning job now – vacuuming the couch of all the dog hairs!!!) Sarah can spend ages with Rupert, even sitting on him while on the iPad. Kiara and Kristin love him too.

Rupert is a great excuse to get out of the house and in the fresh air and sunshine, as he lives to chase the ball. I take him for a ball throw in the mornings. And Josiah often takes him out too.

Rupert brings down the anxiety in the home just by his presence. We noticed this considerably in the month after we first got him. The first six months was a huge blessing but Rupert was also testing boundaries. Now he has settled down beautifully and I think he has accepted that we are his forever family. He likes us, especially me for some reason. Many of us when tired or upset have been known to give Rupert a hug and cry on his doggy shoulder.

He also seems to be quite protective of Summer. If Kristin is fooling around loudly and actively with the girls, Rupert starts barking at him. Same if I give the girls a smack. He doesn’t like it and barks. I feel chastised!

I feel grateful every day for him. He can’t eliminate all our problems. But he has provided massive assistance. More so than any other strategy.

I’m reminded again of all the many individuals and groups who helped make Rupert happen for our family, especially my dad and Heatherton Christian College.

I would like to add too, that Rupert is extra special because not only has he been specially trained as a companion dog by ‘Dogs For Kids With Disabilities’, but he is the only dog that was able to be successfully matched with Rupert in the three or four years that we were waiting. All the other dogs that we met along the journey were also very high quality. And many of them from special breeders, that breed particularly to achieve the perfect characteristics for assisting disabled people. But Rupert was the right match for Summer.

We are SO blessed!

The Extremes of Summer (my daughter)

img_1138I love this girl to bits. I’m proud of her. But today was hard. Actually it was awesome and then it was really hard. I’m going to debrief here on my blog…

  • It was a good start to the day.
  • I slept in until 8:00. Nice. Everyone was quiet. Summer didn’t climb out the window this morning. We now have a new window winder that can’t open enough for her to climb out, but opens enough to air out the pooey nappy smell. We need that window!
  • Summer drank her medication without shaking it around her bedroom onto the wall and blanket.
  • Summer ate all her porridge in her bed, without needing cajoling. She eats better on her own in her bed, than out in the dining room amidst the noise and movement of siblings, which set her off. She also ate without flicking any porridge. No clean up. Only a leaked nappy and had to change half the bed.
  • The smell in the room of pooey nappy was awful. Much worse for a nearly ten year old, than for a baby. I took her to the bathroom to get dressed. I shepherded her like a sheep dog, to make sure she went straight to the bathroom, without suddenly bolting toward the rest of the house. If that happens, then dressing her and doing her hair become problematic. There’s no bargaining power, as she’s free. If she’s in her room and she doesn’t want to co-operate, I can say goodbye, lock the door and come back later.
  • Once all ready she joined her siblings and Rupert in the rest of the house for five minutes, before getting in the car. All fine. No dramas. Only five minutes of risk time.
  • The 20 minute car drive was great. She hugged Rupert the whole way and insisted that I hug and kiss him at various points. Rupert earns his keep every day I tell you!!! She was happy and repeated various sentences over and over. I’m used to it. It hardly bothered me. She’s gorgeous.
  • I dropped her and Sarah to a special needs program from 10-3. Blessing! Yay! She saw a friend and enthusiastically greeted her with hug and kiss and ‘my friend’. Warmed the heart.
  • She bolted inside for the out of bounds music room. The other child followed her, much to the grandmother’s chagrin. It took time, effort, skill and patience to get her out. To move her from one side to the other, to remove the guitar from her, to get her away from other instruments, to shepherd her away from the sight of other distractions. Made it. Bye. Have a nice day!
  • Micah and I went to a local park with Rupert. It was a glorious day. The park was BEAUTIFUL. Lots of lovely trees. Blue sky. Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous. We stayed longer than I planned. I was so happy. Kris called to say he was taking Kiara and Josiah with him to help him with soup kitchen preparations. I relaxed even more.
  • Micah and I went home for lunch, I had a rest on the bed, we did part of a jigsaw, we tried some sugar free desserts I had made, I rested some more. Micah and I were singing to ourselves.
  • I took the iPads in the car as ammo to pick the girls up.
  • They had had a great day, as usual at the program.
  • Before leaving, Summer wouldn’t go to the toilet. She took her top off. I got her top back on when she realised she was cold. I’m glad she’s not a teenager. I kept trying to steer her to the toilet, but she kept trying to escape past me. I tried to block her escape and cajole her. To no avail. Some screaming, some initial aggression. It was a no win situation. I let her go. Whilst trying to walk out, she saw a guy opening a storage area. I said ‘oh no’ while Summer bolted for the opening. A staff member and I spent time coaxing Summer out. He helped bring her to the car, while I walked in front with eyes in the back of my head watching every movement, ready to dart and block.
  • She had her top off again. She didn’t want the helper to put it on, so she froze and wouldn’t get in the car. I realised she wanted mummy to do it, so after getting Sarah and Micah in, I leaned over and put her top on. Then she got in. Then the iPads were on. Peaceful car trip.
  • Once home we tried toileting again. Summer ran for upstairs as the door was mistakenly open, so I went with the flow and steered her with some resistance to the toilet. She was agitated. I was nervous the iPad might end up in the toilet. She relaxed though and complied. She actually did a poo in the toilet. That is actually big news! Been working on that for four years. While she was sitting, I went downstairs, got Sarah and put her on the downstairs toilet, working through some resistance also.
  • The girls stayed on iPads for a while. Summer was naughty at some point. I can’t remember what she did, but I put her in time out. I think she was lashing out at someone. It’s hard to get her in her room for time out. She’s strong and I can’t carry her anymore. I have to hold her wrists and move her quickly and hope the momentum and speed will distract her from resisting. I need her to walk with me. If she resists, she drops to the ground and becomes a dead weight. She can then scream and kick anyone near her. If I’m overwhelmed with what is going on and the needs of other kids, I can’t just leave her there, or she will start damaging things. So I grab her by the wrists, so she can’t scratch me, and drag her by the bum along the floor to her room. I try to do this in a way that is not going to hurt her. This is my last option, when all else fails. When she’s in her room, I lock the door and we both have space. When I come back she is happy, she says sorry and all is well again. We both need the space. It helps us survive. I realise this paragraph may sound very shocking to normal mums and dads. This is not normal. Summer’s brain condition is not normal, her behaviour is not normal. Normal parenting doesn’t cut it. We do what works. We love her to bits. But we have to protect her, I have to protect myself and I have to protect the rest of the kids.
  • For some reason, she ended up in time out a second time. That’s unusual. We don’t use time out that often anymore, only when she really won’t settle and is causing disturbance that is escalating. I checked on her and smelt a poo. I went to get the wipes, etc. And did something else and got distracted. I forgot about her. Later when looking for her I realised she was still in her room. She had taken her pull-up off and the poo had fallen in a pile on the floor. Then I saw the walls. Smeared poo in many different places. She has never done this before. On the rug too. And a little on the bed mattress. I wasn’t feeling my best at this point. I took her straight to the shower, while she resisted. I was worried she had poo hands and didn’t want her spreading the mess. I was being bossy in tone, and hoped she would submit as she can often do, when realising she has done something she shouldn’t have. She resisted the shower but I got her in there anyway and attempted to shut the door. She objected and tried to get out. I wouldn’t let her. She started grabbing things in the shower and throwing them. She started playing with the taps. I left the room, hoping she would settle if I wasn’t there. She came out. I took her back in. She threw more things. I shut the door. I needed time to clean the room. I needed to contain Summer somewhere so she wasn’t wet and naked and pooey in some other place in the house. She came into the bedroom wet and helped me clean the poo. Rupert had already eaten what was on the floor. I warned the kids not to let him lick them. It took quite a while to clean the wall. Summer was more cooperative.
  • I spoon fed Summer her dinner while she was on the iPad. This is the least problematic way to feed her. I don’t like it. I want her to join the family. Sometimes we insist on it, but it usually involves considerable stress for her and the whole family. Problems include – getting her to the table, getting her to stay at the table, stopping her kicking the nearest child, enduring screams if she initially rejects the food, risking food being pushed away and something thrown, risking verbal stoushes with siblings that can escalate very quickly, her refusing to eat, then wanting something, then refusing, then wanting, then wanting a different utensil, etc. The easiest times are when there are visitors for dinner. Then she can often sit and behave quite nicely.
  • I don’t think I was as patient with Summer today as I can be. I had such a lovely relaxed day with Micah, that encountering her challenging behaviour was more of a shock and I often find it harder to deal with when I’ve just had a break. Summer responds best to immense patience, a sense of humour and eyes of love. She’s a connector. That being said, she also responds well to a firm hand – and a bossy voice can sometimes get her moving, when nothing else will. It’s a fine line all the time. I have to have a hundred strategies and pull them out at different times, hoping for the best. I try one, it doesn’t work, I try the next, it doesn’t work. I feel like I am doing a special needs parenting dance. It’s stressful. It’s unpredictable.

Truth, Lies and Anxiety

question-mark-2I have a theory. Does this resonate with you?

When people lie to us, and we have no evidence that they are lying, we have two different responses from two parts of our being. Our mind listens to what is being said, and finding no evidence to the contrary, agrees with the lie. But our spirit senses the lie at a spiritual level and is grieved. Whether our spiritual awareness is small or great, an incongruence now exists between our mind and spirit. Our spirit and mind are not resonating in unity and this creates discomfort in the emotional realm. Anxiety and mistrust are the result. We don’t understand any of this in our mind, but it happens anyway – the fruit of experiencing an unknown lie.

Think of the spouse who is betrayed by infidelity. They don’t know, but they do know. Anxiety, mistrust and turmoil grows. Or the boss who fires an employee, but gives a soft reason instead of the real reason. The employee’s mind is relieved, but the spirit knows otherwise. Anxiety results.

The solution to this angst is truth.

But for many, this is a problematic solution. Truth is often deemed too painful and therefore must be disguised or hidden. But if my above theory is true, then lies do greater damage in the long run, as they destroy inner peace. The best solution may be speaking the truth (with love, not hate). Truth accepted by the mind creates a united resonance with the spirit, and our emotions are therefore more at peace. And don’t we all want peace!

If this theory is true, then this has important implications for our lives not only as individuals but also as a society. For anxiety is rampant and we need to understand its causes. It begs the question – how much of our anxiety is the fruit of lies? It could be minimal, but I suspect it is enormous. For lies do not just come to us from individual relationships, but they also come from society as a whole. If the philosophy that we build our lives around is simply not true, then how much greater the anxiety and inner turmoil. We are building on sand.

As a deeply personal response, I believe that truth is found only in Jesus Christ. He is my ultimate peace. This is not theoretical for me. This is my experience on a daily basis, to greater and lesser extents, depending on the day. His truth brings me much peace. It slashes misconceptions, which may initially be painful, but also bring enormous relief.

My quest is to keep seeking God’s truth and to challenge every part of my life that does not flow with his life giving Word! “The truth shall set you free” (John 8:32).

Ten Scriptures For Freedom

Brussel sprouts 2One of my absolute smashing favourite Scriptures is “I will walk about in freedom for I have sought your commands”. Haha. It seems like a crazy juxtaposition. Like saying I will be in raptures eating brussel sprouts! Are you kidding me?

But that’s what the Bible is. Crazy when you have no revelation. Well much of it.

But when you have revelation, it is gold and it is life and it turns everything on its head!

Here’s ten Scripture commands off the top of my head that bring freedom…

  1. Forgive seventy times seven (Matthew 18:22). Unlimited forgiveness means unlimited freedom. You’re not bound in bitterness. And your body doesn’t suffer as a result.
  1. Pray for those who mistreat you (Luke 6:28). Switches your focus to wanting your enemies good and their highest good, instead of ruminating on how awful they are. Path to freedom.
  1. Confess your sins (James 5:16). Aaaah. Get that guilt out. Get that load off your shoulders. Give it to the one who died for all of that dark stuff. Jesus can handle it. FREEDOM!!!
  1. Consider trials joy (James 1:2-4). Oh yeah. This one’s inspiring. Change your focus off the pain of the pain, to the gain of the pain. You get perseverance, maturity, completeness. Stuff that isn’t formed any other way.
  1. Remember the Sabbath (Exodus 20:8). Then you your body and mind will be rested, your spirit rejuvenated and you will function at a higher, more free level. God created us and wrote the manual for how we function best.
  1. Love the Lord your God (Matthew 22:37). Don’t just respect him. Don’t just obey him. Hahaha. LOVE him. Totally different. And not just the lipservice love. This is heart stuff. What do you really love? What gets you in the core of your being? What prompts your love? Now you know the answer to that, then learn to love God like this and then more and more and more. And as it happens more and more, God will give you grace to experience more of his love, and then you will love him a whole lot more. This is unlimited peoples. Wherever you are at, there is so much more. So much freedom in true love. Different motivation for EVERYTHING!
  1. Don’t commit adultery. Don’t look at a woman lustfully (Matthew 5:27-28). Oh man. So much pain, hurt, suffering, chains, bondage down that pathway. Looks great. So enticing. But so many lies from the enemy in baiting people here. Not the path for freedom. Heed the Scripture and you can walk in freedom. Flee from all this darkness and junk!
  1. Don’t lie (Colossians 3:9). Ooh yucky awful stuff here. Trust is eroded by lies. Trust of others, trust of yourself. No honour or freedom here. Heed the Scripture and let your lips speak truth. Freedom here.
  1. Don’t be anxious (Philippians 4:6). What did you say? You mean I have a choice? Yup! Not easy at first. But when you realise the power of your own will to boss your thoughts, there is liberation coming your way. Keep practicing. Imagine freedom of anxiety. Hahahaha!
  1. Worship the Lord your God and serve only him (Luke 4:8). Nothing greater than to express your adoration of the greatest. Single eyed, not compromised, all for one. 100% Jesus. When I was worshipping God during Sunday service this morning I imagined being in heaven and then I unleashed even more exuberance. Cos there is no shame there in giving him our utmost. What delight to worship him with everything. Freedom unsurpassed in this place. The only miserable thing about writing this, is reading back over it again and realising that unless you experience this it just sounds like an excited fan. How lousy to not be able to use words to describe the heights of intimate communion with God himself. Personal connection at the deepest place in our spirit and soul. It goes way beyond mental acknowledgment. Here I’m not only legally free but my whole being FEELS free!

Refusing Fear

angry cat

I’ve got an attitude towards fear. I’m cross with it.

Fear robs people of joy and robs people of peace. That’s very, very destructive. What a miserable party pooper!

I’ve observed something about fear. It starts with something that is true or partially true and it builds on it. This gets the person in agreement. And from this point it can build a nice little castle in the person’s heart. It gets bigger and bigger, bit by bit, slowly by slowly. Until eventually the fear can be quite irrational and overpowering.

I got cross with this fear. It’s not from God. It’s from his archenemy the devil, who actually exists and who wants to rob our lives of everything precious and wonderful. He twists truth and seeks our agreement.

ENOUGH!!! I’ve decided to stop agreeing with the fear. Hahahaha. This has been wonderful and part of my liberating process. So now what happens is… I see a fear… and then I think, but but but… it’s possible… this could happen… so I’m worried about it. And then I see – I’M GETTING ROBBED OF MY FREEDOM!!!!

Cos I realised something really powerful. Hahahaha. I DON’T HAVE TO AGREE with that fear ANYMORE!!! So I get an attitude. I get stubborn. I say NOOOOOOO!

Sometimes a conversation may go on in my head. I refuse the fear. Then it might pester me. At this point it actually gets fun, because I get like a little kid who is digging their heals in. “NUP. NUP. NUP. I don’t care what ‘truth’ you are telling me fear. You are not from God. And you are robbing me. So I don’t want A BAR OF IT.”

When I persist in my disagreement, the fear weakens and eventually goes away. And then I am FREE!

And the next time fear comes, I am stronger to face it. My fear refusal muscle is growing.

No Guilt

Jesus baggageIt’s a lovely feeling – the absence of guilt. Instead there’s freedom. And therefore joy. And relief.

Guilt is a horrible plague. It sucks the life away and keeps one in misery land. You can never achieve perfection and the guilt just rubs it in and rubs it in endlessly.

The guilty thoughts are based on truth so they are easy to embrace and believe. I should be a better parent, a better wife, a better friend, a better citizen. And so you should! Hahaha what a miserable answer! But you won’t be able to live up to your ideals no matter how hard you try.

Sometimes a perfect day appears. I’ve had them. I’m the perfect mother, responding with grace, wisdom, love, joy. Soothing everyone’s pain and dissolving arguments, cooking a great meal, perfecting household cleanliness and even managing sex at 11pm at night. So the standard is set and this must be maintained.

But it’s IMPOSSIBLE!

The next day you’re tired. You’re grumpy. You start off patient, but one of the kids tips you over too far and you yell. Then you feel guilty and so you act a bit kinder. But then later you feel guilty because you were too soft. You remember all the parenting rules you’re breaking and you feel guilty for that too.

I have a secret to tell. I’ve had God helping me he he he. And he’s an expert at taking away guilt. He’s been rather intent recently on bringing me to a place of freedom. It’s a really nice place to be. He gently challenges my ideals and teaches me to trust him and let stuff go. One thing at a time. He is pretty patient and very loving.

When I trust him to grow me I don’t have to feel guilty about how I am or am not being. I just focus on trusting him to bring me to where I need to be. He’s responsible. I just work with him and understand he has immense patience with me. I trust in his patience and in his love.

When I trust him to grow my kids, the pressure is off me. I’m not the ‘be all and end all’. Lots of people contribute to my kids’ development. And I see God’s hand directing things in their lives. Without this guilt, I’m a better and more loving mum. Still not perfect, but free. And I’m happy for my kids to have a free mum.

When I trust him to take care of my husband, I’m free from a lot of stress. Hahaha. That sounds really bad. But my interference never amounts to good anyway. My husband is way too free spirited and independent and very resistant of my attempts to bring him to my standards of perfection. And a good thing too. Hey, sounds like I’m talking from experience haha. Trusting God helps a lot.

When I trust him to direct me, I don’t have to feel guilty about what I am or am not doing. I’m free. And I know he directs and prompts me, so I can relax knowing I can trust him to steer the ship. My heart is set on him and walking in his ways. And I pray that he will keep me from falling. And I trust him and I don’t trust myself.

Perfect Scripture about guilt is this one: “Therefore there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). All our guilt has been wiped away. It got put on Jesus. That’s why he died. He did mighty thing in that moment so we could be free. When I put my trust in him, the guilt dissolves. He’s big enough to take it all. He’s big enough to handle my trust. So I am free.

My Happy Place

Rest chairThe stress and exhaustion got to the point, where wise advice from someone really close, was to put our middle child Summer in a home for six months, so that my husband and I could recover and focus on the other children. Summer has microcephaly, a moderate intellectual disability and autism. Challenging behaviour has been part of the package.

Anxiety medication for our daughter was always a last resort, and so we thought this would be the time to try it. Better than giving her up for six months.

But another dear lady, in a two hour soul emergency phone call, urged me to rest in Jesus. She also had had an adrenal crash one year prior, and had gone deep with Jesus. I caught the vision.

I spent three days with my primary focus as sitting in my super comfy lounge recliner. Resting in Jesus. I knew I had to do this. Even if the medication helped Summer, I was too wrecked to even look after five normal kids, let alone two with special needs. I needed a personal breakthrough.

I sat in my super comfy chair and I didn’t want to get up.

OK I have to do this quick aside… It’s about the chair… In the week prior, I was watching a Facebook page where local people sell stuff, often cheap and occasionally for free. Well there was a 3 seater couch and 2 recliners up for sale. $500 cos it needed to go the next day. Originally bought for $4000. I really wanted it, to replace our uncomfortable stained 3 seater and 2 one seaters, but hey – $500 wasn’t growing on trees in our place. But then the next morning, the guy put ‘free to a good home’, cos he had to empty his place that day as he was moving. Well I was the first person to respond and boy did I write SOLD. My husband picked them up with the guys help that afternoon. And I tell you the whole thing was immaculate and the most comfortable lounge suite I have ever sat on in my life!

I can’t tell you how excited and pleased and thrilled and totally hap-hap-happy I was! Joy spilling all over. I sat in that recliner chair and I did NOT want to get up!

So… fast forward to resting in Jesus. God set me up to want to stay in that chair. So stay I did. And I sat there and thought about praying. But then I thought – no – I have to rest. Praying is work. Good work, but that’s not my job at the moment. And I didn’t want to just rest. I’ve done that a lot in the past 11 months trying to recover from the adrenal crash. I needed to rest in Jesus. How do I do that?

So I laid back in the recliner and with a sigh of relief, rested my inner being, as if I was just leaning right into Jesus. God must have given me grace to do this, because as I took on an inner posture of relief and relaxing into Jesus, I started to laugh, which made me cry. And then I laughed and cried out loud for ages. Friends of mine call this craughing! Love that word! When I stopped laughing, I would redo the relaxing in Jesus posture and it would set me off again.

When I thought to pray, it wasn’t restful, so then I would just relax into Jesus again. He became my place of rest, my place of safety and no striving and absolute freedom. No judgment, no stress, no weights. I can’t help crying writing this. It was absolutely wonderful. And my gut started to feel peaceful and rested. I don’t remember ever feeling my gut being rested. It always felt uptight. I would tell the psychologist that I’ve been seeing, since my crash last year, that I could feel constant uptightness in my gut. It wasn’t relaxing, but just a present reality that I didn’t know how to get rid of.

So then I felt immensely grateful and relieved to have this new feeling of rest deep within my gut. The best way to describe it was like having rivers of living water flowing within me. I laughed, because this is in the Bible (John 7:38). But I’d never experienced it quite like this.

Then on the third day of resting in Jesus, I hadn’t started Summer on the medication yet and I didn’t have carers helping me that afternoon or my husband. So I was bracing myself for having the five kids on my own, after a very tough prior weekend with Summer. I remember the kids all coming in the door after school and milling around. I was expecting them to bubble manically around me, but as soon as they came near, it was like they bounced into my peace and dissolved. They were calm. I watched their energy diffuse without me saying a word. The whole afternoon and evening was so much easier. I was OK. I was peaceful. I can’t tell you how good that was.

The next day I didn’t want to start Summer on the medication cos I wanted to see if this new inner peace impact could continue. My friend cautioned me not to use up all my new God energy on Summer. She wanted me to recover quicker. The next morning I woke up with clarity. I thought God will get the glory in the end. We can tackle this from a multi-faceted way. I started her on the medication, which we were told would have no positive impact until two weeks after starting. Summer has been consistently calmer for five weeks now, starting from two days before we started the medication.

Since then my peace and rest has been up and down, as I spend less time resting in Jesus. I can’t stay in the chair all day, as I have stuff that needs doing. So I am practicing negotiating the balance between resting in Jesus and also living life. I want to grow in this rest. God showed me what is possible with extra grace in those first three days and now I want to grow in this and practice it. I believe the medication is helping Summer continue this calm, while I am still practicing and it is helping her personally wherever she is.

I love how God shows me what is possible and then helps me journey to grow into it!