pumpkin cheesecake and the world's strongest force.



...hear that?

In my house, that's the sound of my heart beat slowing, my eyes getting heavy, my lungs breathing deeply and a pumpkin cheesecake candle burning so close to my nostrils that it's a legitimate fire hazard to my respiratory system. I can't personally attest to the power of crack, but I'd go all in on a bet that pumpkin cheesecake candles may as well be olfactory crack. At least in October. For me.

But forget smells, this is about the sound I'm reveling in at this very moment:

It's the sound of bedtime.

Not mine.

Theirs. :)

It sounds a lot like a ceiling fan on high speed and a crappy old AC unit buzzing. And when they are sleeping, I get to have thoughts that aren't only about them.

But the truth is, I don't mind. I don't mind them consuming every ounce of me, stealing my hard-won patience and trading it for cheap tantrums, handing over my morning shower/blowdry/makeup routine for yesterday's mascara and a list of Nazi-reminiscent breakfast demands met with my unnaturally calm re-direction.

What is it about our children that makes us so ready to die for them? To hand over every luxury, even the stuff we used to consider essential... just so they might have the chance, just a shot at a fulfilling life?

I'll be honest with you, I've never met a year more difficult than the last one has been. It's been a daily battle to the death: hope versus fear. It sucks the life out of your spirit. It's a battle that wounds and incapacitates you slowly, until one day (seemingly out of nowhere) your find yourself in a compromised position and have no idea what to do or how to win. You lose momentum. You lose people... friends. You lose confidence. You lose motivation. You lose the "put together" image. You are naked, cold, and stripped of any facade that used to render you a worth-while person. You wonder if you're even worth loving anymore. And attempting to love your very young children well, all day every day, in the midst of such a battle makes you a dead woman walking.

But then the mystery of God steps in. The One who makes everything beautiful in its time. And He says, "It's your time."

I can't tell you how often in a week I look at my perfect daughter and it hits me like it's February 7, 2013 all over again.

"I'm diagnosing her with autism. Have you thought about whether or not you want to have more kids? Because odds are they could have autism too. She's going to need therapy like it's her full time job. She may never be a self-sustaining adult; a lot of that falls on how hard you are willing to work for the next 15 years to get her there. She probably won't be able to find employment, get married, have a family, etc. You have until she's six years old to make the biggest difference. Good luck. "

It hits me and emotionally I drop to the ground and my soul screams in fear and and my face has to stay calm so I don't make my kids upset, and it happens when I'm driving her to school or we're out on a play date or she fails again at making a friend, or worse, when some unsuspecting friend/family/acquaintance asks me about her and I totally lose it.

Oh, God, God God. What if she's never happy? What if she has to live with us forever? What if she hates herself when she's older and more aware of her circumstances? What if she hates You? What if I hate You???

But God has been teaching me the most amazing thing.

When I surrender, and I allow hope to win and I let it be my anchor in those moments, joy happens. It's the stuff from that Mother-Teresa-esque, cryptic, unnatural, almost delusional sounding Bible verse that tells us to have joy in our suffering-- it sounds unreal. But now, after all this, I say real hope breeds joy in suffering. And I don't think I've ever met a force more powerful than the joy that comes from suffering, because it is so much bigger than just me, or just us. It's Him.

 And joy in the midst of suffering isn't some sort of act of martyrdom; all it really amounts to is knowing the heart of God and loving Him in all circumstances.

So, if I insist, I can face my greatest fears and carry the weight of them on my own shoulders. We can do it that way... but that's how fear wins.

Or.

I can face my greatest fears with the confidence of God's love for me and my daughter. And hope wins.

And hope changes everything.

Kind of like pumpkin cheesecake candles.

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