March 22, 2011

Not At All Together

I am fourteen. Packing for a Red Cross youth camp. My first time away from home.

I'm nervous. Don't know anyone. But I have my sights set on a short-term missions trip to another country. This week-long experience will be good practice.

The week flies by. I have all sorts of fun. Make new friends. Go canoeing. Take part in skits. Meet a cute Indian boy named Raj. Freak out on Do-Si-Do night because I've never {square}danced with a boy and I'm not about to start now.

All week long I maintain my religious identity. Every morning I quietly tiptoe out of my cabin to read my bible on a sunny rock overlooking the forest. I talk to my new friends about God and soon find I am not alone.

Kammi, my counselor, is also a Christian. At the end of the week, she hugs me and tells me what an inspiration I have been to her. Other friends, non-Christians, ask me about my beliefs and I am more than happy to share.

I leave camp feeling very righteous. I have not failed to meet with God. I have upheld what I believe and I have witnessed to those who do not know Jesus. I've even managed to maintain my purity by not dancing.

Everyone likes me. I have it all together.


9:01 pm. Waiting for Caleb to fall asleep. Sitting cross-legged in dirty jeans and the sweatshirt I threw on this morning.

The house is a mess. Except for the laundry, which was my one great accomplishment today. I have a zillion things to do before our trip to California next week. My mind spins.

Must remember to call Caleb's doctor tomorrow about that weird rash/flesh-eating fungus I discovered on his butt last week. It's not going away.

Haven't spent good, quality time with God these last few days. Feel slightly guilty. But more than guilt, I just miss Him.

Trying to forget the emotional breakdown I had on Sunday, complete with tears and hyper-ventilation. I simply couldn't deal with one more thing. Sometimes a good cry is the best medicine.

Loving my son but wondering when he'll go to sleep. Wondering, if he's not autistic, then what is he exactly? Everyone agrees that there are issues. But what's causing them and more importantly, how do we respond, react, discipline, and raise him?

Also wondering if I'm crazy for wanting more kids. I can barely handle the one I have, and yet I find myself once more in the throes of baby fever. Our adoption application waits quietly in its folder, complete and ready to mail, and yet I can't bring myself to do it. Not now. Maybe next month . . .

The illusion that I have it all together breaks down a little more every day. I hate it. I cling to it. I must have everything perfect, or I have failed somehow. What will my friends think? What will my husband think? What will God think?

Then it hits me . . .

Jesus didn't come to rescue those of us who have it together.

He came for those of us who don't.

And I want to be counted among them. Even if it means giving up my expectations.

I don't want people to be impressed with me because they think I have it all together. I want people to see my crazy out-of-control life, and see Jesus working in the midst of it all.

There's nothing like a "perfect" person to dash our hopes and make us feel inferior.

But beauty in the middle of a storm? That gives us courage and infuses us with hope. If God can help my friend weather her hurricane, surely He can help me weather mine.

That is the sort of person I want to be. Not focused on the ideal, but choosing to find beauty in the raw, real, every-day life around me.

March 20, 2011

Thus passed Carlie Sue

We welcomed a new appliance into our home tonight. A brand-new Whirlpool named Cabrillo. He's a handome devil, if I do say so myself. He and Waldo (the dryer) are already good friends, and I must say I'm relieved to have two male appliances rooming together downstairs. Leaves less room for hanky-panky. You know?

Not that our late gal Carlie Sue was that type of washer. She was a sweet little lady who gave us everything she had. She served the Neuhauser laundry efforts well until she fell and broke her spin cycle. She was old, after all, and had led a full life before she found her way to us. Cabrillo has some big shoes to fill.

Rest in peace, Carlie Sue. You will be missed.

March 16, 2011

Who We Are

"I've got freckles on my nose and holes in my shoes
And the wrong color clothes and a missing tooth
I'm not Superman
God, You made me the kid that I am.
Thank You, God, for who I am
I don't have to be a Superman
Thank You, God, for who I am
All I wanna be is Your best friend."
I'm driving down the 20, winding past Pass Lake, Campbell Lake, through the evergreen tunnels of fir and hemlock that bookend Deception Pass. Moss covers the guard rails along the road. Sunlight filters down and sprinkles bright patches of magic and light onto a green canvas. I love this drive.
But today, the song playing in the car makes me cry.
We don't plan for trouble or problems. We don't daydream as children about the trials we'll go through as adults. As a little girl, I wanted nothing more than to get married, have eight kids, and live happily ever after on a farm in the Midwest.
But dreams change, don't they? They don't always come true, and many times, that's a good thing. We grow up, we mature, and life changes us. God changes us. Our grown-up life rarely looks like what we envisioned when we were small.

"Well, sometimes I trip and fall on my knees
I've got skins and bruises all over me
But I'm not Superman
God, You made me the kid that I am...
Thank You, God, for who I am
I don't have to be a Superman
Thank You, God, for who I am
All I wanna be is Your best friend!"
I never thought I'd be the mom of a special needs child. I never wanted to be the mom other moms looked at and said "Wow, what's wrong with her kid? Doesn't she discipline him?" I hate the way other people look at me in Wal-Mart. I hate the unexcited faces I see in the church nursery when Caleb shows up for Bible Study.
"He's a good little boy!" I want to scream at these people sometimes. "He is sweet and funny and hilariously cute!"
But there's no denying he's a handful. Just last night, Jason and I had to get on hands and knees to scrub tooth paste and salt off of Caleb's floor, toys, clothes, and table:
"Wow, son, really? Really?? I couldn't make this kind of mess with a day off, a mission statement, and a can of whipped cream!" Jason and I laugh. We're used to these sorts of late night unplanned cleaning escapades. We've had a lot of practice.
"Hey, at least it's not poop," Jason says. "At least this smells a whole lot better!"
"Yeah, my teeth feel cleaner already! Glad I haven't gone shopping yet. I'm gonna need to add toothpaste and salt to my grocery list." We look at each other and shake our heads.
Thus goes our playful "let's make the best of it" banter. I'm so thankful for a husband who understands and still stays positive.
I am just an ordinary mom
and sometimes things just wrong
But I'm not SuperMom
So, join in and sing this song...
I try so hard and fail so often. Things go wrong. I get angry. Things don't go according to plan. I stress. Expectations go unmet. I wonder what's wrong with me, what's wrong with Caleb, why can't life just be easier??
"Well, I'm leaning towards 'Not Autistic' at this point."
The nurse practitioner sits across the room from us while Caleb plays with a music app on her smart phone. He's apparently quite taken with the accordion sound byte; he keeps playing it over and over.
We've chatted with this nice lady for an hour and a half. She asked all sorts of questions that made us scratch our heads and think. But at the end of the day, she has no answers for us.
"There are clearly issues going on with your son," she tells us. "But I'm not sure what we should call it at this point. Let me confer with my collegues and see what they think. Then I'll call you in the next week or two to see where we go from here."
Not autistic. I'm relieved but not surprised. I would like answers, sure. A nice, neat label that explains all the crazyness we deal with every day. But honestly? Whatever the "experts" want to call him, he's still our little boy. Still our bud. Still the same zany kid who doesn't get scared watching Scooby-Doo, but cries when he sees the Grinch take candy away from the sleeping Who-children.
Bold and faithful. That's our Caleb. And I am just his ordinary mom.
Late in the evening, around 10 pm. Caleb comes into our bedroom, where Jason and I watch Psych on the laptop. In his hands, our boy brings an alligator made of legos. A peace offering.
"Hi, Mommy!" says the alligator.
"Hi, Mister Alligator," I reply. "What are you doing?"
"I'm going to watch TV!" And Caleb promptly climbs into bed with us. We can't help but laugh.
"Caleb, back to bed. It's very late."
No response, save for a rapid series of fake snores as he lies down and pretends to sleep.
"Caleb . . . "
"No! I'm scared! I'm cold! My tummy hurts! Eat ice cream!" The excuses pour forth, each said with an impish grin on his little face. We decide to let him snuggle with us for a while, "as long as you behave." He smiles up at us and puts a finger to his lips.
"Kay-at whips!" (quiet lips), he says. Something he learned at school. And we proceed to watch TV together in Mommy and Daddy's bed.
Thank you, God, for who we are. We don't have to be Super-anything. Thank you that we can be just us and that "just us" is just fine. :)

March 10, 2011

Catching Up

Oh my. Is this my blog?

I almost forgot what a blank post page looked like. And are those cobwebs I see over there by the family picture on the sidebar?


I guess The Inkwell could use a little spring cleaning! Well, friends, I do apologize for the long absence. Seems like just one thing after another around here and the posts I want to write pile up like the laundry downstairs until I feel overwhelmed with back stories and I simply don't know where to start.

There's been some big goings-on around our home lately. Blog-worthy goings-on. But rather than write a post for each of them, I've decided to write a post of mini posts to catch y'all up on the latest and greatest. :)

Mini Post #1: The Snow Storm

Two weeks ago, the island endured the biggest winter storm in recent history. We got nine inches of wet white stuff dumped on us in less than twenty-four hours. Around these parts, that's quite a rare event. Stores closed. Roads closed. So did the schools. Normal life halted to make way for snowball fights and snow angels. Here's a few pictures:

{The view from our front window}

{Piling up on the maple tree}

{The neighborhood, magically changed to a winter wonderland. I had a sudden urge to play Christmas music again!}

{Caleb watches the snow fall from the front window. He was beside himself. He wanted to be outside constantly, and only the sub-freezing temps could persuade him to come indoors! If I'd allowed it, I think he would have made himself an igloo and camped out till everything melted.}
Mini Post #2: California!
In just a few short weeks, Caleb and I are going to California! We're going over Caleb's spring break for a week-long visit, and I am beyond-this-world excited! There's a story behind this trip, a God-story, which I promsie I'll finish writing and share with ya'll soon. Because really, God deserves the glory on this one. :)
Mini Post #3: Shades of Purple, pt. 2
Coming soon to a blog near you! I promise to finish the story I started on Valentines. :) I won't leave you hanging!
Mini Post #4: Off to Seattle
Tuesday, we will all be heading down to Seattle for an appointment at Children's Hospital. After nearly six months of waiting, we will begin an evaluation process to see if Caleb is autistic. I haven't officially mentioned this on the blog before, and once again, I feel such news deserves its own post. But this post is all about keeping y'all in the loop. So there's the loop!
I think that's it for mini-posts. At the moment, I'm stretched out on the couch, under a bundle of blankets, sharing space with a small boy and his stuffies. :) We're enjoying a morning of cartoons before school and food-shopping later today. Outside, the wind is gusting merrily, blowing winter away. We hit mid 50s yesterday and I'm lovin' it! We've had sunshine every day this week, and spring isn't far off.
Oh thank you Jesus. :)
See y'all soon!