Thursday, March 31, 2011

His Staff, My Thorn

After hearing a sermon this past Sunday about Moses and his staff turning into a snake, we were asked as a congregation to think, what is our staff? The question implies that whatever is in our hand seems like an everyday tool, but it is in actuality a tool of the Lord. While sitting, listening to him, I was literally holding Evan. Evan usually likes to go to his class but he was especially tired that day. I had visions of being a mother holding babies, babies in Africa and just loving them. After several failed attempts at employment I seem to still be looking for my “calling”. Today I read in Exodus about Pharaohs failed attempts to believe God sent Moses and Aaron to prove to him God was calling him so he could worship Him in the dessert. I feel like Pharaoh, not remembering the book I’ve read that set me on this oh so familiar path of confirmation or the many other confirmations God has sent my way confirming I am Mother and Wife, this is my calling. I for some reason still struggle with the acceptance; is it my calling for just now, or for the duration of his career? I have continually stepped in and out of this assured place of knowing, is this temptation, is it rebellion, I’m sure it’s a little bit of both.
Later I read Hebrews 12 and was reminded of the persistence it takes to rise to a specific calling. 1….”Let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence and appointed course of the race that is set before us.” Encumbrance stuck out to me as a word to meditate on. In the past while reading this scripture I never noticed encumbrance, I assumed it all to be sin that was a distraction. So now I think upon not only what my staff is but also, what is my encumbrance? I will have to really think and pray about that specifically.
This entire chapter is especially powerful but as I read on the other passages that stand out… I will paraphrase.
He is our Source of faith and also our finisher. He endured the Cross so that I may not grow weary in my MIND. I have not struggled agonizingly against sin to the point of pouring out my own blood.
Uhh so this is really heavy. In context to my calling and compared to this Holy selfless calling written about above, my calling is a privilege for some that I take for granted. It is rewarding to be the heart of God and experience the level of love out poured from such a Source. Everyone has a thorn, something(s) they struggle to overcome, this thorn for me is so mind boggling. I pray that I continue to be pliable, and patient and grateful for His provision and His grace is sufficient for me.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Dad, Ducks and Such

I have come to realize that more of my role as a mother of 10 year old girls is that of damage control. Many times in the recent months after school I have to explain to my girls why their teacher responds in the way she does. For all you teachers out there, we do acknowledge that they are responsible for some of the reactions the teacher gives to them, but the manner in which she responds is hurtful to them. This specific teacher responds with yelling and sarcasm. Sarcasm is not a stranger to my world, I often would use it to prove my point until the first argument I had with my Soldier just a few weeks after we were married. I don't remember what we were arguing but I do remember his responce after I delivered what I thouhgt was a sure fire way to get him to see my point...I soon realized at that point sarcasm was not such a good idea. He said, sarcasm is just meant to hurt. I never thought of it that way until that day and from then on never used it to prove a point. Anyway my point is that its not used in this house and is appreciated in avenues of play or fun, not anger or frustration. Kaley came home yesterday to tell me that her teacher made her cry, that she knows she daydreams and forgets often but that what her teacher said to her made her cry. Kaley was sent to the office to calm down and was able to explain to her teacher that she made her mad. She then told me that she told her teacher that she often hurts her and her sisters feelings, all of which is true. As a mom of a deployed Soldier things like this seem a little more difficult while they are gone. I never realized how often my Soldier was involved in their everyday lives when he is here. I guess I am so busy I don't pay attention. Anyway, I told Kaley that I was very much like her and I could tell her what not to do but that I really didn't know what to say. Michael and I agree that we should teach our children how to respond to life and not hide from it, but for some reason yesterday I couldn't come up with the words. I think I was so hurt ;) by the things my little girl is navigating I couldn't get past my own feelings. Good thing because it gave Michael a way to parent overseas. I told Kaley to write dad an email and ask him what to do and she did. The response from Michael was so reassuring... such a gift he has to comfort. He told her his experience with people, told her this would not be the last person to upset her and told her a story:

"The expression is, "Like water off a duck's back." You know that ducks have oil in their feathers so when their feathers get wet the water just rolls right off their backs. When someone says something that's hurtful or mean, in your head pretend you are a duck When your teacher gets angry and starts yelling, she's just a rain
cloud and you are a duck. It's not that the rain cloud doesn't like the
duck. The rain cloud is just doing what it thinks it needs to do - letting
it rain and water the earth. The rain cloud is letting it rain because
that's the only thing the rain cloud knows how to do. Sometimes the thunder
and lightning from the rain cloud may be a little scary, but it's just noise
and light. The rain cloud may not realize it's getting the duck wet, but in
the end the duck will be okay because the raindrops just roll off the duck's

As I read it to her and her sister this morning all I could see is smiles from ear to ear and a little mimicking of ducks and acknowledgement of her teacher as a rain cloud. :) What precious words of wisdom for my fast growing 10 year olds...
Dads way of comforting is like non other.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Trusting becaue of His Grace

“Lord, I’m scared. What about my girls. What about Evan, he is so young?”
“I am here, I will always be here. You are learning how to walk on water.”
It is July 28th, two days after my 32nd birthday. I lie in the hospital for the second night crying out to God. My new diagnosis of type 1 diabetes had not yet become a reality. I was focused on one thing; my husband is deployed thousands of miles away in Iraq and my children are alone. My husband and I met in high school in Monroe, Louisiana. I had known him for almost 16 years now and it seemed almost surreal that he was not by my side. I didn’t trust my body and I didn’t trust anyone else’s care. Trust was not something I gave easily, not even to my husband of 11 years.
Not but two months earlier life seemed so routine. After dropping my twin girls at school, aged 9, I diligently assumed my daily visit to the gym where I would run about 3 miles. Evan, my youngest at 4, loved the gym play place so he gladly became my biggest gym enthusiast. The treadmill was my best therapist; I could run through all the emotional stress of being a mom, wife of my devoted Soldier and Army volunteer. I loved being a military community volunteer, but this was my third deployment in five years and I could feel the effects of my responsibilities.
Slowly I could feel my muscles tighten in my neck and running became harder and harder. Soon I realized being tired and stressed-out was not my only need for concern. I was in intense pain and with each visit to the doctor I became more and more frustrated with the lack of solutions. I had been prescribed heavy pain pills, valium, and muscle relaxers. Along with my cocktail of drugs I also went to physical therapy; I stopped running and quickly lost 15 lbs. Even in this time of confusion and pain, I continued to do the best I could to take care of my precious brood and assumed the affects of stress in my life were the cause of my sudden aches and pains.
As you would expect, summer brings new neighbors to our military village here on Fort Carson, Colorado. I would see Carrie from time to time from my backyard; we would exchange a smile occasionally. Smiles turned to greetings and greetings turned to unannounced visits. Like I said before trust was not a word I readily used in my vocabulary. I didn’t entertain the idea of someone invading my space and quickly became annoyed, a symptom of being an only child I guess. Conversations with Carrie were confusing; she often repeated questions she had asked the day before. I also noticed she had a hard time remembering I had three children, even though all three kids rallied around me with each ring of the doorbell. Carrie began to awkwardly ask me about the medication I was on and frequently asked me to share with her. I did not feel comfortable with her easy way of shopping and from then on spoke with caution.
It was mid-day and the backyard had been over-used by our beloved 70lb female Boxer. Even though I was extremely tired, I felt it was time to clean up so not to offend my neighbors.
“Hi Steph, how are you feeling? I don’t want to offend you, but you look tired.”
“I’m okay, a little tired. I can’t see well either but the doctors say it’s a side effect of the muscle relaxers so I stopped taking them.”
“Honey” she said. “I know drugs and that’s not a side effect of the muscle relaxer.”
“Steph, are you diabetic? You should go get check out now! I’m worried for you.”
I thanked her for her concern and assured her I would be okay. I had previously had problems with hypoglycemia, only 6 months prior, and dismissed the possibility of being diabetic. I had been told many times by my primary care physician that I shouldn’t have been given a glucose meter, so I felt no need to be concerned. 430 was my glucose level, 430! If you’re not familiar with diabetes, normal is 70-120. I called a few friends; one to take me to the hospital and care of my son, and the other one to take care of my girls. By the time I was evaluated in emergency room, my blood sugar level was at 540.
Just recently I had a friend of mine ask questions about my experience in July. I told her my situation and her reply will forever stay in my mind. She said, “You’re lucky you didn’t have a heart attack, my mom was in the same situation and she had a heart attack.” Well I am not sure if I would have a heart attack because we probably have a few years between us but I do remember specifically one night feeling like I couldn’t breathe. The amount of medication in my system kept me pretty foggy but I woke feeling like I was in trouble. I started to walk around terrified and contemplated calling 911, but instead I started praying. “Please Lord, help me.” I did go back to sleep and later that day called the doctor to tell them I must have had an allergic reaction to Percocet. Looking back on the situation it could have been a different story; I choose to believe in my prayers.
Gods grace, Gods amazing grace is what kept me walking and talking at a blood glucose level of 540. God’s grace is displayed in the safety of his wings while I blindly drove my precious gifts to and from school. God’s grace is His Holy Spirit speaking though a neighbor despite my lack of trust in her. God’s grace is evident in his ability to heal a pinched nerve from the sugar build up in my muscles and the restoration of my eyesight in less than 48 hours. God’s grace is having not one but two friends at my house in 10 minutes to care for me and my children. Trust is going to sleep, not knowing if I’m going to wake up, because he has shown His grace.

Thanks to Elena, Mrs. Sandy, Mrs. Anne, my parents and the many other angels sent my way during this difficult time…

Saturday, January 15, 2011 for Poche

Not too long ago I started on this new path to accepting my role in life. This blog was started a year ago to just post pictures, now I am using it as an accountability tool. Most people have accountability partners when they start a new goal or need to rise to a specific challenge, but for me, its to remember why I am here. It won't matter who reads it, I still know its here. All too many times I have fought the idea of "just being" a "Stay-at-home-mom." Just this past November I set out to become the career woman I had always dreamed of by starting another degree program in Psychology; I currently hold a bachelors in Fine Arts, but don't use it for financial gain. More often than not, I'd wish away certain responsibilities feeling that I would never be the person I set out to be. Thanks to God he knew best, it just took me 10 years to figure it out. Well back to the new degree first class assignment was to read Courage and Calling by Gordon T. Smith; its a great book if you are struggling with knowing your calling. It was this book, and Gods Grace, that completely changed how I viewed my place here in the Poche household. The pivotal sentence in the entire book was "When we set aside our longings for security , wealth, comfort, fame, and even acceptance, what do we long for?" This is a question that really burned in my mind for quite some time, not wanting to admit I wished for any of those things. I held back the idea for so long that I felt insecure or inadequate, but when I looked closer I couldn't have been more wrong. Society tells us we have to be women who take care of our family and house, run a company, be president of the PTO, support unconditionally the "roles" others ask of us, and love ourselves. Ladies, while I found we could strive to do it all, can we do it all 100% and is it fair that we ask ourselves to be this superwoman that I think society drives us to be. Well to answer the question proposed above, I came up with simply love my children, watch my husband thrive in happiness because his career provides lifelong investment in giving back to a cause he feels deeply about, and become an old woman with my old man. It took some time to swallow that without insecurity, in one way or another, I wasn't okay with not achieving the all time dream of career woman. I would ask myself the what ifs... and what happens when... and then when reminded that the guessing games were irrelevant because I already had security in the things I worry about, it always boiled down to... I love my family and I enjoy seeing them grow into who they are and thats okay.
Identity has always been very important to me. I am adopted by two very loving parents, and while I never looked like them, I loved them very much. I searched for ways to relate physically to them but always came up short, literally...both parents are several inches above the 5'3" I so proudly display. If you have ever seen my twin girls they look very much like carbon copies of me. I think this was a gift given to me because of my longing to see myself in someone else. We have a saying in our house when our children do something less desirable. We remind them, "Poche's don't _____"... you fill in the blank. I read somewhere it gives them a gauging tool; a practical way to help them make moral decisions. It really works they have an idea of what we expect or wish for them as they choose behaviors. Anyway, my point is, I am happy. I am happy being mom, Soldier lover, Army volunteer.This realization has lead me to loving my children for who they are, appreciating my husbands provisions for us, and freedom to love my life right where I am...P is for Poche, not pride, profit, plagiarism, or priss...just simply Poche.