Timing is everything!

Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. I love hanging lights, which has become an event with my kids. What a blessing to have them willing to help me! What other time of year to do you totally redecorate your home for one month! Kinda crazy actually, but still I love it.

So when this year, as the big day draws near, my kids are coming to town, what should happen but a crazy thing like Bells Palsy! What on earth! Wake up one morning and I’m having trouble drinking my coffee! Next thing I know I’m feeling numb around my eye, down my cheek, throat, neck and tongue. My nurses mind kicked in and I thought I had a brain tumor! No stroke..I know what that would look like!
But I had had a viral infection for the past couple weeks, and that is a precipitating factor. I am grateful that it is minor. You couldn’t tell to look at me. Other people have a major drooping of their face. Only when I talk, eat, or drink is it noticeable. I have major eye pain is the problem.

Here’s the thing. In the past I would have been asking God why? Why now? Did I need this? Kinda like He inflicted this on me. Like He is trying to teach me a lesson. My friend said those things, not to criticize that for sure, it’s the way we have always thought until now. It doesn’t feel good. He isn’t able to meet me in my disappointment when I ask questions like that. Some tweeking of our thoughts and words and you have a different statement. Instead of “Why now God? Why did YOU allow this to happen. What are You trying to show me, teach me? What did I do wrong?”
My new mantra is “What timing! God I need you to help me through this. Help me rise above.” What a difference it makes. He is my ally after all. He created the world not to be like this. It was suppose to be blissful. We are the ones to mess it up. Thus I have a weak body, one that I sometimes I wear down by doing too much. I live in a broken world where illness and tragedies occur. When I look at life this way, it’s so calm. Am I bummed? Oh yeah. Being on prednisone is causing me to be kinda crabby and awake all night. Am I sad that it might affect my time with my kids home from MN, you bet! But with God as my partner, not the one inflicting this on me, I can overcome the earthly struggle I have encountered. I feel His encouraging presence.

And what a minor thing it is. As families face loved ones missing, others grieve the loss of loved ones lost in the past. Families have loved ones over seas serving our country and the people of the countries in which they serve. Yeah, mine is rather insignificant. It’s not to make myself feel guilty for my feelings, but it puts it all in perspective.

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How could that be? A person in a family of 11 feeling lonely? It’s how you define lonely. Physically there is pretty much always someone around me; a lot of weeks, 24/7. I’m not talking about physical loneliness. Emotional loneliness. To me it’s worse. To physically have someone around you but emotionally they are vacant is something that I find devastating. Strong word. This state of being has caused personal devastation in my life. It has robbed me of who I really am. I have lost that person. My mission is to stay above water. Keep things functioning. I find myself retreating from life. Participating in less all the time.

What makes it all feel like I’m the one going crazy is, the people that cause me to feel this devastation, to others appear normal. Helpful. Successful. Sweet. Generous. There are times that I see that. It doesn’t last. Don’t trust it. It will most certainly bite you in the rear if you do.

I’ve been bit. Many times.

Talking in such generalities, confirms my craziness. And yet my examples of the oddities that go on in my house make others say, “she’s crazy. That happens in my house too.” When I say it’s different, I feel as if I’m not being accountable. That I’m blaming others. That I think what I have to deal with in life is “special.” But it is. I didn’t have this going on in my home when my biologicals were young. There were other stresses, but not the kid crazies I deal with now. I know normal and I know weird, and my life is on the weird side now.

The other night, my three adopted and I were home alone. I went out on the back porch to care for my dogs, and when I attempted to enter the house again, the door was locked. No biggie. Or so one would think. I knocked on the door. Banged on the door. Pounded on the door. Kicked the door. I shouted and banged some more. All of a sudden the youngest shows up in the kitchen and goes right over to…the computer which she had been working on. I banged again and had to ask her to come to the door to let me in. When asked if she heard me pounding on the door, she replied, “Yes.” Daughter number 2 appears. They had been together. When asked the same question, she replied, “Yeah I heard you, but I thought you were pounding something up here in the kitchen.” Legit you might say? Really? Imagine you are in your home and you hear regular, hard pounding going on and it isn’t stopping. You would go find out what is going on. Let’s say Tara, or Molly had been there. They would have eventually thought, “Something isn’t right.” These two, didn’t cross their minds. Not to mention number 1 who was in the shower, and never came down to say even later, “What was all that pounding.” Emotionally vacant. In comparison, today, #1 tripped over a cord, didn’t fall, didn’t hit anything, and daughter #2 responded instantly with “Are you ok?!” ????????

On a regular basis right now, #1 chooses to not communicate with me in what I would consider “normal.” We are setting the table and she asks randomly, “What is colon cleanse.” WHAT? Today, I ask her to get the bleach cleaner from under the kitchen sink. She shows up with a different one, and says “I found the bleach cleaner.” I asked was this the one under the kitchen sink? “No.” How could you have communicated in a better way? “I could have said, Mom I couldn’t find the bleach cleaner under the kitchen sink, but I found this in the other bathroom. Is this ok?” So she knows how to communicate, she chooses not to and keeps us at odds. That is the goal of an adopted child. To keep you at a distance so that they don’t bond with you. To bond with you would subconsciously cause them death.

You might say, Karen don’t let her do that. Who cares. Don’t let her get to you. Understand why she does it and deal with it. At times it’s constant. There isn’t a moment right now when she comes up and says anything to me that makes much sense. Would you let someone keep punching you over and over and say, just ignore it and it will go away? Of course not!!! I’m human, and I’m not always able to over come this garbage.

It doesn’t stop with my adopted. That’s what is so hard. There are the same communication problems with another one in my home. But if I talk openly about that I would be accused of any number of things. From being mentally unstable, to hypercritical, to being a terribly angry person. These things have all been said to me, and about me by this person I am suppose to be emotionally connected with. Yet on another day, I’m the most wonderful, loving, supportive person in the world; those are the days I don’t say anything despite the crap going on all around me. Keep quiet and keep peace.

This all creates a place of emotional nothingness. I am numb and don’t know what to do about it. Now being a Christian, of course I know I’m not alone. I don’t need to be told that. I need to vent. I need to talk about this and not worry about not being spiritual. God can deal with my frustrations and my truth about them. Can others?

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motherhood and the birds

This summer I have watched two different species of birds and their young. As a child I could never understand my mother and grandmothers fascination with birds, now I have the same afflicition. My kids are not quite sure what to do when I drag them out to see the latest in the baby meadowlarks progress towards adulthood. They indulge me while walking away shaking their heads.

The first observation of the season was when we saw a baby Robin laying on the ground. We had some horrible storms this summer with furious winds and hail. Maybe he had been blown out. I asked John to Goggle the question, “Will a momma bird reject her baby if it’s put back in the nest by a human?” With computer always at his side, he goggled. Did you know that birds don’t have a sense of smell, so thus they could not “smell human” on their babies thus causing them to kick the kid back out? The things you learn!! However, the American Robin does continue it’s training of it’s young on the ground! Another amazing fact!!

Sure enough the momma Robin was close by looking at us rather impatiently with food in her mouth.

But she was also concerned about someone that was near by….

After shooing the snake one way and the baby the other, we backed off and watched. Soon the mom brought the food to the baby, who gobbled it up, hopped after her a ways, then mom flew off again. I continued my study like one of those nature guys on tv. Camera in hand. The little one was now taking shade under one of the big pine trees in our field.

Mom was across the street in an open field hunting. Once again, baby and mom communicate, mom arrives to the youngester’s new spot, and brings another tastey morsel. Fascinating.

This newly acquired knowledge was confirmed the next day when on the farthest, opposite end of our property, I found another mom Robin on the fence and after listening, found another baby Robin hiding in the weeds.

On occasion we have had Western Meadowlarks nest in our trees out back near our patio. They will loudly protest as you come near “their” tree. Sometimes they will even dive bomb you to get you to move on. We had a nest this year with three babies.

One was lost to the wind and hail. We watched the other two grow from fuzzy blobs poking out of the nest to little birds sitting on the branches of the tree. Over several days I watched them come and go, learning to fly from “their” tree to another, to the fence post, and back to “their” tree. The whole time, mom and maybe dad were near by, scolding me for getting too close, and bringing them snacks along the way.

I can not lose the analogies to parenting our own children here. As these birds did, we spend our time feeding and caring for our kids and encouraging them to take those next steps of maturity. Yes we do squawk at them now and then when they don’t see the dangers we do. And now and then we have to intervene and ward off those that would like to harm them. Of course it takes years of prep before our kids are ready to move out of the nest. Then the day comes and they are gone. All grown up! Flying away.

For now, they are flying to and from the nest. This provides the weaning process for mom! But for the most part they are out on those fence posts and nearby trees. It makes this nest feel quite empty. There isn’t a crazy boy coming into the house causing lots of noise and yes, laughter anymore. I expect to see him in the drive thru up at Wells Fargo in Brighton, but he’s not there. The presence of my techno color Molly is missed. The constant, yes constant sharing of stories which was part of my life for so long, has now gone quiet. I won’t be able to walk into my local Starbucks anytime soon. She’s not behind the counter anymore wearing her headset and apron.

Yep, the nest is feeling pretty empty.

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Who am I?

I am at a turning point in my life. One of those developmental stages. Did you know they continue beyond the baby years? Yep. I am at the redefining your life stage, (my own definition). For 26 years I have been known by whose mother I am. I am Kristin, Tara, Michael, Molly’s mom. I am John Miller’s wife. WAIT!!!!!!

I’m Karen. Karen Giles. Who is she? Where did she go? She was a separate person at one time. Then she became known by all these others peoples names. She became lost in what she was doing. Not bad. A developmental stage of its own. It’s time to find her again. I’m not sure I can.

I am feeling hopeless.

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Signed on for life

When I became a parent I signed on for life. It meant that even though it might cause an interruption in my plans, or it might be an inconvenience, I was on the job pretty much 24/7.

These musings come from the heart of a person whom God made to feel things incredibly deep. How I wish I could watch the news, or read a newspaper, or for silliness sake drive by road kill and not feel anything. At the very least to say “Oh that’s sad. What’s for dinner?” This morning, I was “feeling” in a very deep way regarding a situation not uncommon to the world around us.

The feeling was one of deep anger. Anger at a generation of parents, adults, teachers, coaches who have been put in place over children to guide, direct, and influence their lives, yet place their own needs and agendas in a place of greater importance; not recognizing the consequences of those choices.

There is a young person whom I know that I would be proud to call my own. He is polite, considerate, caring, gentle, hardworking, successful student, and athlete. He’s in the top 15 of his class. His parents are divorced. Ok, that happens. But when a parent then goes on to place his new family above his first family, that is where my understanding fails to exist. Why wouldn’t you be at your child’s athletic events? Why wouldn’t you make it a priority to be at the event honoring their academic success as they near high school graduation? Are you feeling good about telling this “child” of yours that another child’s pitching practice is more important than this once in a life time opportunity to honor your son? Are you aware of the fact that your child is afraid to ask for help, feels like he is unworthy of an adults help, all because when he comes to you he is treated as an inconvenience. Did you know when you signed on to be a parent you signed on for LIFE!!!

A few days ago, I was chatting with another young woman who’s parents are divorcing This is not a rant against divorce, however we do need to acknowledge what this does to our kids. She was sharing how her dad is out of work, and even before losing his job he was drinking. Now he’s home all day and drinking. She is working two part time jobs in order to pay for her car insurance. Her dad tells her he needs money and is thinking she owes him some. Wow, that’s a responsible human being isn’t it. All I could say to her was “Adults. They can sure let you down can’t they?”

A young girl says she “hates” her mom. She plays her sport without a parent in the stands and even has to find a ride home after so as to not inconvenience her parents. What the heck?! I watched her beat herself up many a time as she missed a crucial play. Why wouldn’t she? She doesn’t think too highly of herself because no one has told her, shown her she is worthwhile. Her dad showed up for the last 5 mins of the game. Not aware of him, I asked if she needed a ride home. With a huge smile on her face that extended into her eyes, she said “No thanks. MY DAD is here!” 5 mins.

I’m not a perfect parent. Many a mistake has been made, many an angry word spoken, many opportunities missed because of being task oriented myself. However, looking at the big picture, I did a pretty good job. My bio four are the result. There is proof in the pudding.

Last night was the last soccer banquet. It’s done. No more soccer games, no more bball games, no more awards ceremonies. I don’t just see Molly as I say good bye to this season of life, although it is she I most immediately grieve the loss of, but of all 4. Kristin acting and singing in Fiddler on the Roof, Tara being the best team captain of her high school soccer team, Michael singing Magic Changes, playing his guitar in Grease, Molly scoring another goal. It hasn’t been an inconvenience. I signed on for life. On to the next season cause life isn’t over yet.

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Spring is one of my favorite seasons. The crocuses and daffodils are sneaking a peak in my garden only to be covered by a spring time snow. Oh, but those springtime snows are the best! They are the last gasp of winter; you know that they aren’t going to stay around for long. In Colorado, this is the only time of year you will see green, so yeah I love Spring!

Seasons of life are much the same as calendar seasons. They come whether we like it or not, bringing changes with them. Parenting, my career in life, has come with many seasons. Hmm, let’s see; the building your family years, is like springtime. The years of steady growing, school age and on, are like summer. I include the adolescent years in there because I love those years. Of course with so many children, we have been fluctuating between the seasons for some time now.

What about autumn? As much as I love spring, I love autumn more. Growing up in the northeast, this time of year was incredible. The colors are like no other place on this planet! The cool nights, Indian summers, harvest time, all aspects of autumn that I love. Autumn parenting. A time of greater transition. Children leaving home, going to college, truly becoming their own person. Embracing, (or not) the things you have taught them. As a parent reveling in their accomplishments, their talents and watching them fly. We have been hovering in this season for awhile now. As one would leave, we still had dance recitals, dramas, and soccer games to attend, minimizing the feelings of loss. Until now.

As Molly graduates, the last of “the originals” as we so fondly call the bio 4, I am facing wintertime. The long, cold, dark, days of winter, and I don’t like it one bit. The emotions have sideswiped me. Totally caught me off guard. But Karen, you might say, you still have three kids at home. Oh but how strange and uncomfortable that is. (That can be “mused” on another day.)My four kids have been my “career.” Yes I can say job well done, but not sure I’m ready to say I’m done with the job! Can’t we go back to when they were younger? When they wanted nothing more than to come home to tell me all about their day? To the times of crazy dancing, baking cookies, and reenacting our favorite movies? All four kids wanting to campout on Mom and Dad’s bedroom floor? How cliche, but where did those days go? I must allow myself to feel the grief of those days being in the past. It’s natural, normal. But I don’t like it at all.

However, moving forward, because time won’t stop, I will cherish every last soccer game despite freezing my tush off. I will revel in the academic awards night, Top 10 students dinner, and seeing my beautiful girl off to her last Prom. I’ll bring a whole box of tissues to graduation and might even cry through the grad party. No one will want to be around me in August as I drive her to MN and settle her into her dorm room at Bethel.

There are alot of feelings to feel, tears to shed over the next few months. I hope the feelings of winter will pass quickly. Winter isn’t all bad after all. A time of rest. A time to ponder things from days gone by and dream of days to come. Yes, there will be many days to come filled with many new and wonderful memories. Sigh.

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My parenting journey

26 years ago, I became a parent. Kristin celebrated her golden birthday on the 26th of January. John and I made the choice to become parents starting 9 months (give or take a few!) before that day. What a journey it has been. Worthwhile. Challenging. Growing. Rewarding.

Many women dream of their wedding day; having every detail embossed in their minds. I felt that way about becoming a mother. Being the youngest of 5, with 7 years between the next oldest and me, I was able to enjoy the additions of many nieces and nephews to our family. With each one, I took great pride in being their Aunt Karen, Frah and other assorted goofy names bequeathed to me. Connie, my oldest sister was my greatest teacher. She had Amy when I was 11. 16months later she had twin boys, Jason and Scott. What a training ground for future parenting skills! I spent alot of time at their home, “helping out,” or at least I hope it was seen that way! Managing 3 little kids under 2 is a management job that should pay 6 figures!

And so it went, Shawn and Brian, Sara, Hester, Neal, Matthew and Kevin; each one of these kids left an imprint on my heart, creating in me a deep desire to have one of my own. Each of my siblings adding to my knowledge of parenting. Little did I know that God was preparing me.

John and I moved away from our hometown 1 month after being married. Never to live there again. There was no Grandma’s to take the kids to for a break. No sisters near by to bounce parenting concerns off of. But God had provided that training ground earlier that would prove to be vital for our success as parents. We read alot. Studied other parents. Not to be critical, but to see what worked and what didn’t. Are we perfect? Far from it!! But we have pursued the goal of being the best parents we can be. I feel our 4 biological kids are doing ok in life.

But parenting is a job you never retire from. So the journey continues. Maybe I’ll share some more along the way.

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I love this time of year. Or do I? Why do I do all I do? I’m not sure. Lights, and decorations, for what? I’m never ahead of the game. Always trying to “catch up.” For what? I’m not sure.
My kids say, “Oh but Mom you always do it. It’s tradition. You have to do it!” This year they helped get those lights up. What a blessing that was. They cared enough to put action to their words, “It’s tradition. You have to do it.” It became a “We.” So I guess that is one answer to my why’s.

I want to enjoy the season. I want to be purposeful in my activities. Creating new memories, new traditions with my younger three. They still have the wonder of it all. I have to keep going for them. It’s only right. Another “why” answered.

But how? Going slower. Taking moments to relish in the “meaning.” Be consistent in doing that, not so hit and miss. There is healing that has gone on in our lives over the last year. Relationships are actually growing; there are even moments of laughter and enjoyment. It should and will be easier. Not so awkward. Something to be thankful for.

Advent. The anticipation of something special. Magnificent in this case. A child. God’s child. Born for me, a quiet, simple birth. Died for me, a violent, yet purposeful death. So I can live.
He is the lover of my soul. My provider. My reason for being.

Although I get caught up in my activities during this season, I’m going to stop and breathe. Take in some much needed oxygen. Remembering who gave me this life. Who sustains me. And why I love this time of year. Another answer to my why.

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Rainy Days

It has been raining steadily since Friday. Here in Colorado, rainy days are very rare; you know the days where it’s dark and pours continuously. Many would call these days dreary and depressing. For me, they are energizing! The other day, my friend Terri even called me and left this message, “Was just thinking of you today as I know how much you love rainy days like this.” That was so special!

Previously I mentioned I am an ESFP. The little discoveries I am making about myself as I grow up are quite fun. So an ESFP likes to see all the possibilities. That can be a great asset in life. It makes life fun! But any strength taken to an extreme…. you have a person who sees all those possibilities, but is so afraid to choose and miss something else, leading to a person who suffers from “paralysis by analysis.” More often then not, I don’t get a lot done. I feel demotivated. Back to rainy days. They eliminate some possibilities! Since the field of dreams is narrowed some, it’s easier to make a choice. Energy!

So thanks God for the rain! It felt really good!

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