Friday, December 30, 2011

Family Goals 2012

Canaan, Emily, Alif, Malachi, Graham and Caris in November 2011

Because it's the end of the year, lots of people are starting to think about New Year's Resolutions. Well, maybe the super-organized have had theirs planned out for some time, and some procrastinators won't even think about it until January is officially here, but anyway, I've seen a few Facebook posts about those new-year promises we like to make. My favorite was my sister's, dug up from half a lifetime ago: Be happy ALL the time. Good luck with that one!

There are sure lots of things I can (and Lord willing, will) be working on personally in 2012, but my main push this year will be for some family goals. I wrote out a plan to work on some things each month. Here they are, in case you'd like some inspiration. I'll expand on each month as it comes along. I'd love to hear your ideas, too.

January: Spiritual health
-Set time for Bible reading
-Age-appropriate/topical Bible study for each person

February: Physical health
-Save sweets for treats
-Healthy snacks
-Fast food limitations
-Monthly meal plan
-Plan family activities
-Oral health
-Hygiene schedule

March: Financial health
-Family savings goals (Legoland? Family camp? Long-term, obviously)
-Donating/ministry ideas
-Yard sale

April: House health
-Yard: weed, plan, plant, clean, recycling center spruce-up

May: Emotional health
-Family fun nights
-SMASH journal
-Connect with extended family

June: Mental health
-Summer read-alouds
-Unit study as a family

July: Spiritual health
-How is Bible reading going?
-Plans for small group in the fall
-Age-appropriate/topical Bible studies for each person

August: Physical health
-Increase fruits & veggies
-Review everything else from Feb

September: Financial health
-Family savings goals - re-evaluate
-Donating/ministry ideas
-Christmas plans

October: House health
-Take in recycling
-Indoor project evaluation & list

November: Emotional health
-Same as in May

December: Mental health
-Christmas break read-aloud

Friday, December 23, 2011

Thankful for him and Him

 I have to confess something: I have been kind of having a pity party about some things. Our lives have changed so drastically that when I look at how things go these days, almost nothing is like it was a year ago. Alif is busy recuperating (read: sleeping, doing word searches, playing Wii, going on long walks etc.) and I am busy doing everything I was doing before as well as much of what Alif used to do (Christmas shopping, for example). It can get overwhelming, and I don't always handle it well.

In many ways, I feel like I lost my husband in April 2011. It's easy to focus on what we don't have, what is different, what's harder now. I told Alif last night that it feels like our life is divided: Before and After. I wondered aloud if it would always feel that way, and he said it probably will, though the differences are less drastic as the months go by.
 But then I think of Christmases past. Alif & I rising groggily from slumber to excited voices. Alif making coffee, Mama readying the camera. Smiles all around, albeit sleepy ones. You see, we'd been up very late, night after night, making our list and checking it twice, making piles of gifts and hastily wrapping them, making silly jokes that no one else would understand.

A couple nights ago Alif was resting on the couch while I wrapped gifts *my* way (not hastily but thoughtfully). I was so tired that I hit my deliriously silly mode and started to belt out, "Heeee's the boogie woogie bugle boy of company Beeeeeee!" The hilarity of it hit me and I started to giggle. First it was, "why in the world did THAT song pop into my head??" then, "Isn't it amazing the things we'll do in front of our spouse that we wouldn't do in front of anyone else?" Then Alif said, "C'mon, let's hear it again!" Ha! We were a sight.

Last night we stayed up way too late, wrapping again, talking, laughing. And then today I read about a friend who lost his Dad years ago today. It was such a precious reminder of what is left. There is much missing and our lives ARE very different today than they were a year ago. But oh, I'm so blessed. Christmas morning I will awaken next to my man. Our children will pad down the stairs and onto our bed. We'll tease them and remember baby Jesus, grown-up Jesus, and finally we'll rise groggily from slumber. Alif will make coffee and Mama will ready the camera.
Thank you, Father. Thank you.

Friday, December 16, 2011

april 23-24, 2011

On April 23, Alif continued to move his face (grimaces, etc.), head and left arm. This was not just a nerve thing - this was actual movement! One of our favorite nurses yelled, "ALIF. ALIF." and he opened his eyes!! I couldn't believe it. He actually showed signs of life! My heart began to soar - maybe things could turn around! Maybe we  wouldn't be considering turning off life support on Monday!

The next day was Easter. I was feeling many things, all hard to describe. What an unfathomable joy to celebrate the rising of our Savior, being in the midst of the biggest trial of my entire life, but also feeling closer to Him than ever before. There were so many practical considerations: someone brought over Easter baskets for my kids, and I would never have remembered to do that. I had to decide whether to go to church or stay at the hospital, sending my kids to church with someone else. I couldn't begin to think of facing people outside the hospital setting, but I also couldn't bear the thought of my kids having a weird Easter morning on top of the absolute chaos going on in their lives already. I made up my mind to take them to church, and my brother-in-law Jason graciously offered to go with us, acting as a sort of emotional bodyguard. Oh, I can't begin to tell you the love and respect I had for my sister's husband that day. He stepped in dozens of times, answering questions firmly but lovingly, so I never felt I had to answer questions I didn't want to, but also didn't feel like I was pushing people away. Thank God for such a man!

I had prepared my heart to simply not cry, period, because I knew that if the tears started, they surely would not stop, and I didn't want my children to see me in an absolute mess. It was quite a juggling act that first week or so, how to handle it all with the kids. Things were VERY up and down - one hour things looked pretty promising, and the next the situation was grave. I was barely hanging on through the roller coaster ride and didn't want my kids on it at all. I stuck to telling them that Daddy was very, very sick, but that he was in God's hands; God was taking very good care of Daddy and so were the doctors and nurses, and we hope he will be home soon. I instructed everyone else to say the same and for the most part, people were very tactful with my kids.

After church that day, as we left the sanctuary, I told Jason, "I have never felt the urge to literally run to my car after church, but it's all I can do to walk right now." But we made it. My kids got to go to church on Easter. It sure wasn't normal - Caris was wearing some random dress that wasn't at all Easter-like, but we were there. When I got home my Dad was at the house waiting to pick up the kids so they could spend the rest of the day at his house. Hooray for Easter egg hunts and barbecue and family, even if Mom and Dad were spending the day in the hospital! The first thing he said was, "have you talked to your sister?" Talk about gracious offers - Megan had chosen to spend Easter morning in the hospital with my husband so I could go to church in peace! Sacrificial love. I told my Dad I hadn't talked to her and he said, "I won't spoil the surprise, but get to the hospital. You're going to be happy."

The whole drive there, I just couldn't imagine what awaited me! Could my husband possibly be sitting up in bed, talking? Nah, probably not . . . maybe more movement of his left arm, maybe even his left leg? Oh, I was so excited! I got into that room as quickly as I could (which isn't very quickly, if you know how the ICU works - LOL) and what I found was my husband moving his left arm and leg! AND, answering questions with nods and shakes of the head!! He understood us! Oh, MAN! I was so excited!