Thursday, November 3, 2016

Birthday Girl: 5

Well, here we go again.  The costume is hung and put away, the calendar page is turned, and before we know it sun has risen on a crisp, clear November morning.  It's a sparkly, sunshiney day today.  It's the fifth time I've had the honor of clearing my throat and wiping my tears before I storm into your room and say, "Good Morning, Birthday Girl!"

Today I was met with bright, happy eyes and giggles.  Your friend Claire was here for a few hours before school to read books and play piano with you.  You know the routine in our house on a weekday morning - Daddy wakes you up and fills your tummy with oatmeal, then Miss Claire comes to play for a while, and then Mama comes home from work and that means it is alllllllmost time for school. 

People ask what we're doing to special to celebrate your birthday.  Truth is, every day that you get to go to school, hang out with your girls Lily and Claire, play your piano, read a few books, and get a double kiss from Mom and Dad is the Best Day Ever in your book.

So we're doing just that.  Lots of smooches, songs, and Stinky Face, your very favorite book, over and over (and over) again.  And then one more time, just for good measure.  And I even sent Stinky Face to school for your Birthday Show and Tell.  You'll get to share your favorite book with all your friends, and they can all laugh and clap right along with you, and then you can share rainbow-sprinkled donuts for your birthday treat.

Seriously, how are you old enough for Show and Tell and birthday treats already? Weren't you just 2?!?

Sigh.  At some point in the last 2 weeks or 5 years you grew a bunch of teeth and started walking and talking and your hair grew back in and you started looking so grown-up that it takes my breath away.  I'm never quite sure if I'm happy or a little sad when November 3 rolls around.  I'm so VERY happy that I get to be your mama.  I'm just a little sad, though, that you are growing so big, and you need me a little bit less each day.

That's okay, though.  That's my job, even if it makes me a little sad.  You might think my job is the place I come home from, smelling like coffee and breakfast sandwiches, swishing around in a frenzy because I have less than 20 minutes to get you dressed and off to school.  You might think my job is folding your clothes and chauffeuring you to appointments and telling you again and again to take your fingers out of your ears and listen to world around you.  But my biggest and my BEST job, Libby Joy, is to help you need me less.

And BOY OH BOY are we winning at that this past year.  Some days I don't even recognize you anymore! Your pants are all too short and you skipped an entire size of shoes this past summer.  You giggle hysterically at sounds that used to terrify you.  If I talk too long with Miss Angie when I drop you off for school, you start yelling at me.  "Bye, bye! Bye, bye!" If I ignore you, you get louder: "BYE, BYE MOM!!!"

Get out of here, Mom.  This is MY time.  I'm ready to shine.

I'm so in love with the family pictures we had done a few weeks ago.  The light that evening was such a beautiful reflection of bright, vibrant, five-year-old YOU! Your big personality is growing just as fast as your long, long legs.  And each day that you need me less, I am learning more and more from you.

Mostly I'm learning that it's okay not to know everything.  I have so very many questions about your future, and I get myself awfully worked up and worried, don't I? I think Mommy, and really **ahem** all of America at this pivotal moment, could do well to take a page out of Libby's book.  Stand in the sun and soak it up.  Take pure joy from simple things.  Be okay with not knowing all the answers.  Know Jesus, know love, spread it around, and that is enough. 

You, Libby Joy, are my bright light.  I know that each day you need me less, you've grown and learned something new.  On this, your fifth birthday, I'm so happy to follow your lead and let you do you. 


Monday, October 31, 2016

Walk to the Light

This post was mostly written last July.  I was close to finishing it and then I chickened out, for reasons explained at the end.  Today I was thinking about Libby's birthday.  And about how even when I don't post anything else here for the entire year, I always do a birthday post.  And about how I will write how proud I am of her and just how far she has come.  And then I realized that I absolutely would not be doing justice to her progress if I did not finish up and publish "Walk to the Light."  Because when I re-read last summer's work, I fully appreciate where we are today.  Not just Libby... all of us.


It’s just a Tuesday morning, day 2 of week 3 of 4 weeks of summer school.  We’re smack dab in the middle of as much of a routine as we get in the summer time.  I went to pick up Libby and saw her standing outside with a teacher.  I admired her little top-of-the-head single pigtail that her hair is finally long enough to hold again.  She had a smile on her face before I even said hello.  I knelt in front of her and greeted her the way I always do: “Hi Libby, it’s Mama.”  The little smile grew.  Out snuck the cutest giggle and a tiny “MUmma!” She took a few tentative steps toward me, unassisted, reaching out with her hands in the direction of my voice.  I scooped her up and plopped her in her car seat and waited for her to scream in the ten seconds it takes me to walk from the back passenger side door to the front driver side door.  She doesn’t scream anymore, but I’m still not used to that.  The song ended on the radio and the deejay started talking about last night’s Bachelorette episode.  I waited for her to scream about the ten seconds between songs that the deejays talk.  She doesn’t scream anymore, but I’m still not used to that.  I remind myself that I’m driving a Big Girl now.  A three-year-old-preschool graduate.  She’s a new kid these days.  She’s starting to use her words.  “Libby, are you ready? Get set…” I wait for her tiny voice to tell me “goooooooooooo!” And I gooooooooooooo.

I want to write today.  I haven’t wanted to write in such a long time.  The words and tears just came spilling out of me in the 4 blocks from school to home and I knew I needed to ignore all the other things covering my kitchen counters and my desk and my mind, and just let it out.  I feel so full of hope today, and I realize the feeling is growing familiar again.  I feel light and bright sometimes.  I’m still not used to that.  But today… I feel like I need to share it.  Like if I do, it will be more real.  Like if I do, it will stick.

I’ve been living underground for about three years.  At first when your child starts to show signs of anxiety at the grocery store, you write it off as a bad day, or a “phase” if it persists.  When the “phase” grows from a whimper to a full-blown tantrum, you look for reasons to shop alone, and then feel guilty that you’re depriving your child of a learning experience.  When the “phase” persists and gets a medical diagnosis, you insist on challenging her.  You slap headphones over her ears, grit your teeth, ignore the looks and comments, and parade her through store after store, week after week, to help her grow.  It’s hard.  It’s getting harder, not better.  You break after a while.  You stop taking her all together, cold turkey.  You start shopping alone again.  The relief.  The guilt.  You decide the guilt is easier than the alternative.  And suddenly it’s been six months since you took her in a store.

You start doing the same thing with restaurants.  You can’t remember the last time you sat down as a family in a restaurant.  Park, play dates, church functions, casual get-togethers with friends.   You stop accepting.  You stop thinking of these things as even being an option.  “We just can’t do those kinds of things yet.  Sorry.” You say “yet” like it’s temporary.  But your heart believes it will be this way forever.  Underground.

You gave her what she wanted, what you thought she needed.  You learned how to manage.  You shop alone and deal with the guilt.  You only eat in restaurants when you can afford both the meal AND a babysitter.  You don’t go to friend’s houses; you occasionally invite people over, but it’s always after she’s in bed.  You can’t possibly “deal with” company and your child at the same time.  You’re coasting along, and someday it will get better.  You don’t yet know how, but someday it will.  It certainly can’t get worse.

Oh, but it can.  Next you find yourself unable to run water because it’s the most offensive sound on the planet.  The air conditioner in the summer, the heat in the winter.  The microwave.  The dryer in the downstairs laundry room just below her bed.  Every week it seems there’s something new, but the old doesn’t go away.  It just keeps piling up.  Next, it’s conversation.  She can’t handle being in the same room while people talk.  Doctor’s visits are impossible, deejay voices breaking in between songs on the radio, Mom and Dad asking when she had her last diaper change or just how your day went.  You shut down.  You feel like you can’t do anything, anytime.  When she falls asleep for the night and you’re “free” to talk to one another… you find you don’t remember how.  When you visit with family for the first time in a year and they ask you simple questions, you respond like a sullen teenager.  Not because you’re actually sullen, but because you’re actually at a loss for words.  You prefer to just let others talk.  You’re content to sit and listen and watch life go by.  People ask questions and want to help but you’ve reached a point where you just don’t want it anymore, because you’re too exhausted to even implement the best and easiest of ideas.  You’ve become complacent, even comfortable in the most uncomfortable of situations.  And now that you’re settled in, you don’t want to move.

I was underground.  I had become comfortable in darkness.  What I remembered of the light outside was harsh, blinding, burning.  I preferred to pull the blankets over my head and embrace the cold darkness.  People called for me from outside.  Family, friends, Libby’s teachers.  I heard their voices, sometimes I waved back, but I really just wanted to be left alone.  They tried harder.  They sent ropes down to me so I could pull myself out.  They propped a ladder against my walls so I could climb out.  Eventually someone climbed down the ladder and grabbed me by the hand and strapped me into a harness and they hefted me out of the pit.

“You need help.  You need help as a mom, and you need help as YOU.”

I didn’t open my eyes at first.  I could feel the warmth of the sun on my skin, and my brain knew I was being drenched in light.  But my heart wasn’t ready to feel warm yet.  My heart felt safe in the dark and cold.  My heart was afraid of the light.  But I did what they wanted me to do.  I thought maybe I could give it a shot and then when it didn’t work out (because it’s NOT going to help, NOTHING is going to help), I could retreat underground again and resist all the harder next time.

The first thing they wanted me to do was send her to school.  I did not see how this could be possible.  But, alas, it’s the law.  She’s three, and the law says she is ready and needs to receive her school services away from home.  Yeah.  Right.  The kid who doesn’t allow Mom to ask Dad if he got the mail yet.  THAT kid can handle being confined in a classroom with a dozen other noisy kids.  Sure.

Turns out, she can. It wasn’t easy at first, but she learned astonishingly quickly.  It hurt my heart a little that she could learn that fast at school when every little thing at home is such a battle.  It hurt my pride, too.

The next thing they wanted me to do was switch to a new therapy clinic.  I liked the idea of a shorter drive.  I hated the idea of a new therapist.  Kelsey was safe.  Kelsey had seen me cry and lose my crap.  Kelsey had seen LIBBY cry and lose her crap.  Kelsey knew that a different therapist would be able to help Libby, but I didn’t want to hear it.  I didn’t want to start over. 

Yeah, that worked out fine, too.  The kid who used to cry the minute we walked in the door of the clinic, who used to need to be pushed in a swing for the first ten minutes or sometimes an entire 45-minute session, now walks and talks and uses her hands and says “yes” and “all done” and “bye bye” for any number of different therapists who have no problem interchanging because Libby can handle it.

Well, that was all well and good, but then they wanted me to ask for help.  Real help in my home.  Libby’s needs were assessed and we qualified for hours and hours per week of in-home assistance, paid for by a grant.  This isn’t meant to be babysitting so I can work more hours at the store.  This is HELP.  It’s like home care.  The idea is that when they come in, I can do some cooking or cleaning or run some errands or even take a nap.  It sounded incredibly appealing.  It also sounded terrifying. This is my home, my dark underground hole… and they wanted me to let people in on a regular basis.   Oh, the anxiety.  We’d had babysitters before, sure, when we could afford them.  We never asked them to feed her or bathe her or spend more than a couple hours with her before bedtime.  Now our help would be “hired” through an outside payroll company and paid a wage that rivals any other starting wage in town, and they would be asked to take off my plate the tasks that cause me the most stress.  I dragged my feet harder than I’d ever dragged before.  School and therapy are one thing, but THIS? I’m accepting funds to turn over my job as a parent, my entire LIFE – and let a teenager try to relieve me.

By now I should have seen the pattern and known it would be fine.  But boy, were those first weeks hard.  Those poor girls.  I was a total MicroMomager.  I would follow them around and say “do this next” and “read this next” and I was worrying more than ever if Libby started crying, because I didn’t want the girls to feel overwhelmed and shut down like I had been.  But again… it was fine.  It was better than fine! With time I started retreating downstairs to fold laundry and – gasp! – turn on the TV and enjoy myself.  Then I got a little more brave and would run out quick to get a gallon of milk or fill the water jugs.  By two months in, the girls could barely get in the door before I would say goodbye and go run errands for two hours, go for a long walk with a friend, or go out to eat with my husband.  We took a girl to doctor’s appointments so she could entertain Libby in the waiting room, and take her out of the treatment room after she got upset so Mom and Dad could continue talking with her doctor.  We took another girl away to my parents’ house for an entire weekend so she could help with Libby for hours on end while we prepared for and enjoyed my brother’s wedding.

If only my present self could slap my past real hard in the face.  And then tell her to quit being sad and lonely and proud and just take the help.  I might have felt this good months ago.  But boy, am I thankful that at least we are where we are right now.  Where we are is a pretty good place.  It’s a place that’s far enough away from the darkness to finally be able to see how dark it was.  It’s a place that makes me squint when I turn the other direction and look ahead at the possibilities that await us, now that I listened to those who know better.  Now that she’s growing.  Now that I’M growing.

I had to learn that really hard thing that all the moms learn.  It’s Parenting 101: your kid WILL behave better for others than she will for you.  Your kid IS capable of doing things she doesn’t do at home – it’s just that she’s equally as stubborn as she is capable.  It was a hard, hard lesson for me to learn, because I had been telling myself for so long that “Libby is different” and we can’t, can’t, can’t.  And we’d created this whole new world to shelter her, and it hurt to realize that she didn’t need the shelter anymore.  At some point it had become a shelter for me, and a hindrance to her.  And when she finally got some light and started to flourish, it was really REALLY hard to realize that it was time for me to do the same thing.  To accept the help that not all the other moms get, and that’s okay because I’m nothing like the other moms.  To start feeling again.  To start living again. 

I’m going to wrap it up the same way I always do.  Our story is ours and it is unique, and if you’re looking for a direct application to your life, you’re probably not going to find it here.  But the big picture is this: if you’re underground somewhere, somehow… I have been there.  I wondered if it would ever end.  I can assure you that it does.  If you’re not ready to grab the hand that is reaching out to you, if you can’t understand why you’re more comfortable wallowing than fixing… just leap. 

And if you ARE one of those whose hand is extended, one of those light-bearers shining and shining, calling and calling, and you’re not even sure if they hear you… don’t stop.  They hear you.  They see you.  They feel your hand.  Maybe right now that is all they need.  But don’t go away.  Knowing you are there and that you care is maybe all the brightness they can handle right now, but it IS soaking in.  And there will come a day that the brightness finally reaches all of them, from nose to toes, and they feel okay and maybe even a little sparkly, and YOU are the first person they want to hug.  You are sharing their darkness; someday they will want to share their light with you.


Updated note, 10/31/16

I wrote this piece in July and was 95% done, and fiercely proud that I was becoming a person who could admit the darkness I was overcoming.  And then the very next day, or maybe even that same afternoon, I was derailed by a temper tantrum or something of the sort, and began to doubt my progress and my voice and even my right to post something so ugly.  And so here it sat as a draft for well over three months, as I continued to dance on the line of Walking to the Light/Crouching in my Hole.

You know what? I’m so glad I didn’t post it then.  Healing from deep-seated struggle is not a linear journey.  What I wrote that day paints the picture of a hypnotee climbling out of a dark hole and mindlessly ambling toward progress and light.  That’s not real.  Real healing is the dance I described above.  You fall down again, maybe even back into your hole, but you climb out a little more quickly each time.  You move toward the light, but there are new obstacles along the way.  It takes stumble after stumble to really begin to grasp the progress you are making.

I can’t even count how many times I’ve fallen since I wrote this post all about how I was all done falling.  But in three days my Libby Joy will turn five years old and I will post again, about how proud I am of how much she has overcome.  And you, the Libby Joy Fan Club, can’t even begin to fathom how far she has come until you know where we came from. 

Five years old.  Walking, talking, and soaking up her ever-expanding world.  That’s enough to make me cry light, bright, happy tears.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

2015 Redfield Family Christmas Letter

Merry, Merry Christmas!!!

Wishing a most blessed day to our loved ones near and far.  A little 2015 summary for those who have the time and/or desire to catch up on the happenings in our little corner of the world...

We started the new year right, flying out to California on January 6 to fill two glorious weeks with sunshine, happy reunions, and wine tasting.  We were blessed to have the chance to introduce Tim's parents to some of the people and places that have grown so dear to us in the three (!!!) years now since Libby's adoption.  We were also blessed to able to storm outside to a beautiful Pacific sunset after the Packers completely tanked in the NFC Championship, which helped a teeny, tiny bit.  With the exception of that atrocity, we enjoyed a wonderful, relaxing trip after the frenzy of Christmas and having closed on our house right at the end of the year.

Once we returned home, it was back to the grind.  Tim got back into the groove of the school schedule after his two extra weeks of Christmas break.  He continues to enjoy his work as pastor at Trinity Lutheran in Belle Plaine, especially preaching and working with the children of our PreK-8 school, as well as the high school youth.  Tim got to coach the Trinity students in bowling last spring, and then cross country in the fall.  He also ran his fifth full marathon in October - just days after tweaking a hamstring in cross country practice with the kids.

Megan is still spending her early mornings in the kitchen of Belle Plaine's Kwik Trip store, Monday through Friday, and finding more bliss sleeping in on Saturday mornings than she ever did as a teenager.  The rest of the day she hauls Miss Libby, aka The BOSS, all over creation, and occasionally finds time to garden, sew, and keep working on updating paint colors throughout the house.  And nap.  She is a Master Napper.  Megan completed her sixth half marathon in October, and it was her favorite one yet, as she trained to walk it instead of running for the first time :)

Libby Joy, still our little Nut Baby, turned four in early November.  Libby made some exciting progress in 2015.  Though she is still not talking, she is closer than ever with a vocabulary of about 20 words that she can repeat very clearly, and some awesome mimicking and imitation.  She sings along to her favorite CD's, and you can really hear that the words are getting closer and closer every day.  She is also much more comfortable walking freely around her play room and her bedroom, and even wandering out into open space in the rest of the house to explore.

Libby started going to preschool three days per week in the fall.  Twice a week, Mom drops her off at Chatfield Elementary for about two hours, where she works with her team of teachers and specialists to become more comfortable in a classroom with other children, and learning the routine and basics of what school is all about.  On Fridays, Mom takes her to preschool at Trinity for about 45 minutes (that's about as long as Mom can handle :) ) and we listen together to devotion, a Bible story, the weather song, and we usually (attempt) to color a picture together.  Libby also has Occupational Therapy twice per week at Capable Kids in Chaska, and will be adding Speech and Physical therapies back to her schedule in January.

Our family grew a bit in June! Megan's brother Michael was married, and we welcomed his bride Téah and 5-year-old Dechlan to the family.  Our other nieces and nephews continue to amaze us as they grow up so quickly in between visits.  Jacob is now 5, Lucas 3, Reagan almost 3, and little Eli is 1.

In July we were heartbroken to say goodbye to our sweet dog Charlie, who was not quite ten years old yet.  Charlie had been losing his appetite and energy throughout 2015, and much more rapidly after Easter.  He was found to have lymphoma in July, and so we bid a tearful farewell to our first baby, who had been with us since 2007.  Meanwhile, our naughty but oh-so-lovable black lab Sam, now 6 (we think) continues to amuse, befuddle, and comfort us.  In the wake of Charlie's loss, Sam enjoyed lots of extra treats, hugs, rides in the car, and miles and miles of walking with his little friend Georgia while Megan and a friend trained for the half marathon.

We did manage to block out a third week of vacation for the year in August.  We enjoyed our first-ever "staycation," which was really so much more relaxing and comfortable for Libby (and also Mom and Dad!).  While grandparents came to help with our sweet girl, we enjoyed trying local wineries, restaurants, ball games, and even the dinner theater - luxuries for which we rarely have time, money, or childcare available.  It was such a refreshing time away from it all, even though we weren't away at all! In 2016, we look forward to celebrating our tenth wedding anniversary with a special vacation to Tennessee in the spring... although we might regret forgoing the now-annual California trip in January when the temps drop below zero for the first time around here :)

We thank you all for your continued prayers and support throughout the year, and we have really enjoyed your cards and updates this holiday season! May you all be filled with wonder and peace as you come to worship the Newborn King. 

Love, the Redfield Family

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Birthday Girl: 4

Dearest Nut Baby,

They say it’s going to be unseasonably warm today.  Like possibly 70 degrees.  In Minnesota.  In November.  The blazing trees still carry brilliant shades of red and orange and gold.  Sometimes I think maybe it’s still September and that windstorm last week just blew us a few pages ahead on the calendar… and that means you will still be my little three-year-old for weeks and weeks.

It seems that nature, just like this mama’s heart, simply cannot fathom that the third of November is upon us again.  Four.  FOUR! Four is when you can start to shop in the Girls’ Department.  Four is when school is a Real Thing.  Four is when your mama loses her mind because it’s just. not. possible.

But once again I take a step back, just like when you turned three, and two, and one.  I force myself to see through the tears that yes, we are really, truly here once again.  You have earned your FOUR.  You have worked HARD this year!  You have amazed me and pushed me and made me so proud.  I won’t dissertate on all the astounding accomplishments and staggering steps you took this past year.  That’s what my Facebook wall is for. Mama’s BragBook.  I just want to take a moment on your big day to tell you about my absolutely, positively, most favorite thing you learned this year.

Ever since you became ours, your daddy and I have fielded compliments about how pretty you are and how amazing and how determined.  And all of those are true and leave me beaming.  And usually crying.  But another one we hear a lot is how wonderful WE are for having chosen to become your parents.  That one is a little tougher to swallow.  Today is not the time or place for all the reasons why it’s awkward and not quite right – that’s another dissertation waiting to be written.

Although we don’t feel that our choice really sets us apart from any other parent, the fact of the matter remains, we DID choose you.  We chose to be open to adopting a child with special needs, because we felt it lined up with how we would have handled a biological pregnancy.  We chose to be considered for you specifically, because our hearts were bursting with love to share and the anticipation of becoming parents.  We chose to say YES when we were chosen for you, because we were madly in love with you after just two weeks, and we knew we could face any challenges lying in wait with our Savior by our side.

Since we became your parents, we continue to choose you day after day, just like all the other moms and dads.  We choose to hang out at home a lot more, because that’s where you are comfortable.  We choose to work opposite shifts and see one another less, because you really need us to be available to be with you full-time right now.  We choose to push through and be present when we are exhausted, discouraged, or upset with you.  We choose to be adaptable and resourceful and advocate for you, because we have been given the awesome responsibility of teaching you how to understand this world, and the world how to understand you.

Just like all the other moms and dads, we choose you, our dear one, every day.  We choose your needs above our own.  Why do we do it? There are a lot of fine and noble reasons.  There are also some kinda selfish reasons.  Like being loved by you in return.  The hugs and slobbery kisses, the smiles, hearing your tiny voice say “mama”…

Sweet Libs, I have loved you since the first day I read about you in an e-mail.  My love for you is unconditional and will never, ever depend upon how much love I feel in return.  But let me tell ya, kid.  It sure makes it easier.  It makes my world bright and beautiful.  Feeling loved by you makes me feel like I’m on top of the world.

You and I struggled hard together this year, kiddo.  I’m feeling pressure because you’re getting older and I have to make big decisions about your future.  The temptation to compare you with your peers is stronger than ever, now that you’re school age.  I’ve had some dark days trying to feel worthy of the honor of being your mama.  And this year, just when I needed it most… you began to choose me, too.  Attachment and bonding does not come automatically immediately in adoption.  You’ve known me as your mama for years know.  But this year – this blessed year – you began to realize what that really means.

You began to cuddle.  Not just when you’re sick or upset.  But like a regular part of each day, after nap and juice.  You lean in close and we make silly sounds and we tickle and you could just sit with me for hours. 

You began to cry out when I’m not there.  When you can’t feel me beside you.  Sometimes it’s infuriating because I just need two minutes to make your lunch or go to the bathroom.  But when I take a deep breath and really think about it – it’s totally precious.  You want me there with you, every second.  You are choosing me.

You give big bear hugs.  You say mama and daddy clearly.  You reach out for me in church, just to make sure I’m still beside you, even when you’re comfortable and happy. 

This year, you began to choose me.  To consider me your safe place.  Your mama.  You can’t tell me yet that you love me.  But somewhere among all the rough patches of the past year, I began to feel in my heart what I already knew in my head.  You choose me, over everybody else (except Daddy sometimes).  You love me, just as much as I love you.

And that, my pumpkin pie, is my very most favoritest thing you learned to do this year.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Happiest Day

It’s been three years today since The Doubt went away.


I had thought those years, 2008-2012, were to be my “Low” for this life.  I was challenged beyond anything I had ever experienced before.  I had led a remarkably ordinary life up until I walked smack into the roadblock of infertility, and it stung all the more because I hadn’t seen it coming.  As reality slowly bore down upon us, month after lonely month, I doubted.  I doubted myself and my body and many of the choices I had made in this life.  I doubted my Savior.  Mostly, I doubted if I would ever become a mama.  One can only wait and wonder from a place of optimism for so long.  To simply wait and to simply wonder is innocent enough, but it takes a superhuman strength and faith to keep resentment, fear, and bitterness from creeping in, quickly turning wonder to doubt.  And doubt can be ugly.  Doubt has the power to take darkness from the issue at hand, and cast it upon every other facet of your life… even upon things you never doubted before.  Doubt shreds at every confidence you once possessed.


 I know.  That’s an ugly, ugly way to start my first post of the new year.  Yes.  Of the YEAR.  I’m sorry about that.  I have my reasons… I’ll get to that… ;)


But I have to start with the ugliness of doubt for you to fully understand the significance of May 1.  When I say that May 1, 2012 was, and still remains The Happiest Day of my Life, I don’t say that lightly.  There are a lot of other contenders.  The day I married my hubby - June 10 - or the day, 20 months earlier, that he asked me to – October 22. The day I finished my first half-marathon – May 21 – or the day I first held my daughter – May 28.  The day we became a forever family – February 28.


Happy days are so happy partly because they shatter doubt.  Will I ever find someone to spend my life with? YUP! Engaged! Married! Will I ever get control of my body and do something physically amazing? BOOM! Half-marathon.  Five times, thank you very much. Will I ever be a mom? Yes.  Here, hold her.  And nine months later… go ahead and hold her forever.


But to hold her, first someone has to give her to you.  And those years of doubt came about because we couldn’t “give” her to each other, the way most people can, without some extra help.  It hurts to ask for help.  It hurts to wait for help.  And on May 1, the day she was given to us, the day we got our “yes,” we crawled out of this dark hole of pain and fear and insecurity and all the other ugly things that live under the shadow of doubt… and felt pure sunshine for the first time in a REALLY long time.  No more shadow.  A child would be ours.  SHE would be ours.


I’d never before had to fight that hard, that long, for anything. Throwing off that shadow of doubt was truly The Happiest Day of my Life.


So like I said, it’s been three years today.  As you can imagine, the years have distanced me from the doubt and pain, dulling it day by day. I got swept up in being a mama, as I knew I would.  I got swept up in being HER mama.  She is, as many of you know, a child of unique needs and challenges.  Please take some time to look into Sensory Processing Disorder if you wish to know more about these challenges that drive our lives at this point.  We’re pretty broken down.  We push and we learn and we try and, more often than not, we hit a brick wall.  We’re not so different, really, from many of you who struggle with your kiddo(s) or any number of other storms you might be weathering.


I wait and wonder once again.  I wait for her to mellow out, to catch up.  I wonder when.  I wonder how.  I wonder IF.  Resentment, bitterness, fear… they’re not far behind.  I’m scared for her.  I’m scared for me.  I see the frustration and the desperation in the trained professionals we have enlisted to help her, and I’m scared for them, too.  I’m losing little bits and pieces of myself. Doubt once against shreds against every confidence I possess.  It’s darker and heavier than I remember.  This is hard.  REALLY hard.  This – the waiting, the wondering, the constant struggle to break through whatever it is inside of her that’s causing her so much anxiety – this is my new, exhausting, all-consuming Life Low. For now, anyway :)


I have learned a lot.  I’ve learned a lot about doctors and insurance and all these “conditions” they say she has.  I’ve learned about parenting and judging and choices.  I’ve learned about patience and time management and sacrifice and what it means to have another person actually SUCK THE LIFE out of you in 30 seconds flat.  I’ve learned that when dreams come true, new dreams take their place.  It’s easy to forget that the child staring you in the face – screaming in your face – was once The Dream.  I’ve learned that even on the good days, the Milestone Days, the facebook-worthy days… it’s still possible to totally take for granted the one thing you SWORE you would never, ever, EVER take for granted.


Due to some personal stuff, I’ve been forced over the past few weeks to dredge up some old feelings I thought I’d never feel again.  Feelings from the last time I thought I was living my life’s lowest low.  I’ve marveled once again at how easily, how quickly I forgot what it’s like to long for a child.  What a fight it even was to call her mine.  How much I longed for freedom and control in creating my little family.  It’s been a reality check, if nothing else, a slap-in-the-face reminder, amidst the chaos, of just how blessed we truly are.


And just in time for today.  May 1.  The 3-year anniversary of The Happiest Day of my Life.  So far, that is.  You see, the Happiest Days are the ones that follow the Darkest Days.  And if I’m right about that, then it stands to reason that we have a new Happiest Day on the horizon.  I don’t know when.  Maybe it will be the first time she says “I love you.” Maybe it will be the first time she sings in church with other children.  Maybe it will be the day we finally, gratefully close her Private Therapy files.  The day is coming, though, I KNOW it is coming, that we will break through Sensory Processing Disorder.  It will never fully go away.  But the day is coming that she will be strong enough to shoulder most of it herself.  It is our job to guide and lead her to that place.  It is a hard, dark, exhausting job.  But so is everything that’s worth doing.  That’s how we earn our Happiest of Days.


Whatever you’re fighting with right now – whether it’s The Lowest of Lows, or just a Little Low – take a step back from it for a moment and think about your last Low.  What was it you were fighting for? How did you pull through? What did you learn? No, it’s not going to solve what you’re fighting now.  But it might shift your perspective.  Shake things up a little bit.  Lately, I’m struggling against some of the greatest fear and insecurity I’ve ever faced.  But when I think back to the last time, WHEW does that give me strength.  A heavy-handed reminder of exactly what it is that I’m fighting for.  A little power and confidence to face these new challenges.  A reminder of all that I HAVE as I face the pain and doubt of what I do not have.


With everything going on lately – the stress of escalating SPD, the resurgence of old, painful feelings, the emotional anniversary of the happy day we got our YES – it’s no wonder I cried ugly tears for a few minutes in the car today when that song came on the radio.  That song that was my Adoption Anthem.  That song that was (probably not written regarding anything remotely close to what we experienced but, whatever, I will swear until the day I die was) written about our journey.  That song that used to make me cry instantly, but I had slowly been tuning out as the years went by.  Well, today it got me.  It got me crying.  It got me thinking, and it finally got me writing again.


Time stands still

Beauty in all she is

I will be brave

I will not let anything, take away

What's standing in front of me

Every breath, every hour has come to this


One step closer


I have died everyday, waiting for you

Darling, don't be afraid, I have loved you for a thousand years

I'll love you for a thousand more


And all along I believed, I would find you

Time has brought your heart to me, I have loved you for a thousand years

I'll love you for a thousand more

Monday, December 8, 2014

2014 Redfield Family Christmas Letter

So... my stupid blog won't let me post pictures today.  Or ever anymore, really.  I should really look into that.  But today, no time :) So I will lead you from here back on over to Facebook, where I have posted the story of our year in a photo album with ridiculously long captions.  Because when you have a kid as cute as Libby... what good is any kind of letter without pictures? :)

Merry, merry Christmas, dear ones!

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
Luke 2:14

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Just Breathe

The crazy started last week Wednesday.  The CURRENT round of continuous crazy, that is. It really seems in life that the crazy never ends, but we just trudge through an endless parade of slightly crazy, frazzled crazy, and CRAZY crazy.

So last Wednesday, we got an early morning snowfall that I had no clue was coming. I never take the time to check the weather, becauseI know if we’re getting anything major, my mother, who is glued to her weather app, will alert me to the initial forecast, any changes in the forecast, and then text me multiple times to make sure we’re all okay.  My mommy loves me :)

So Wednesday was, of course, Libby’s OT (occupational therapy), which is a 45-minute drive one-way on GOOD roads.  We also had shopping to do.  Three stores, four if we could work it out.  And we HAD to be home by 11:30 for workout.  We made it home by noon.  Oh, well :) Work out with Emily.  Eat lunch.  Make pounds and pounds of mashed potatoes, both sweet and traditional.  Fold the laundry.  Pay the bills.  Sweep up the dog hair.  Do it again a couple hours later because the dogs are idiots who keep shedding even though it is FRIGID outside.   Return e-mails to the bank, realtor, and insurance agent because we chose a completely ridiculous time of year to close on our house.  Finalize the Christmas card list.  Stew a little bit, because at some point this YEAR we really, really need to go meet with our new accountant and get ourselves in order before tax “season” begins, and time is slip-slip-slipping away.  Don’t actually DO anything about that issue, but do a few other things I can’t remember.  Also play with the baby.  Read books, push her in the swing, sing some silly songs, keep her fed, keep her happy.

I won’t bore you with my play-by-play of the rest of the week.  It was the same as any other week, except I *think* there was a national holiday in there? I kind of missed it.  Cooking, cleaning, working (plus 10 EXTRA hours on top of my normal schedule), shopping, working out, mothering, football-watching, and sleeping whenever possible.   Life is life.  It’s ALWAYS crazy, and extra-crazy as November sprints into December and we all steamroll our way through the cookies and tinsel and wrapping and massive migraines.

Fast-forward one week to Wednesday of a new week.  The day before had been JUST awful.  My mood, usually uplifted before lunch when I get my Insanity endorphin-rush, had just declined throughout the day from poor to sour to abysmal.  Wednesday started off JUST as well when I overslept for work by an hour and a half, but actually turned into a fabulously productive day when Libby showed herself to be in desperate need of an all-morning nap, and we got to stay home from the three-hour ordeal of OT and GET. STUFF. DONE.  Check, check, check.  New week, same story.  Christmas cards are now in the addressing phase.  Bills may have gotten paid last week, but the checkbook needs re-balancing again because Cyber Monday. More e-mails about the house.  More fretting about taxes (STILL no appointment made).  Dogs are still shedding. I’m still surviving on coffee. Blah blah blah.

One thing was different this week.  While last Wednesday was nothing but Mashed Potato Making Night, this Wednesday is the First Wednesday of Advent.  There’s church tonight! I am actually pretty excited, because I haven’t been to an evening advent service in YEARS.  We didn’t have them at our previous church.  And they are SO needed in the mad rush of December.  Just that one extra hour of peace and calm makes all the difference in the world. And so I rushed even more, and pushed even harder, because I had a deadline.  Libby had to be fed and pajamafied by 6:50 so we could make it to church on time.  Okay, so I didn’t get a shower, and the dogs’ supper had to wait, and zero dishes got done yesterday, but by 6:54 I was grabbing the keys and we were ready to go.

“Libby, let’s go to church, sweetie!” I announced as I lifted her from her high chair.  She grinned an adorable little grin, because church means music, and music is good. I pulled her carseat blanket over her head, and pulled her pajama sleeves over the cuffs of her mittens, because if I don’t she WILL pull off her mittens in the 28 seconds it takes us to drive to church.  I jingled my keys so she would know we were going somewhere in the car, and stepped out the door into a breathtakingly cold December night.

She gasped when the cold hit her face.  I thought she might cry, so I hustled to her car door.  Surprisingly, I heard giggles as I plopped her in her carseat. “What’s so funny, you silly girl? Are you excited for church?” Giggle, giggle. “CHURCH?” Giggle, GIGGLE.

I did some good thinking during those 28 seconds it took us to drive a block and a half to church.  I could learn SO MUCH from this kid.  Church is literally the highlight of her day.  I mean, I was excited, but she was EXCITED to go to worship.  Church is IT.  Her entire day was MADE by the fact that she got to leave the house and we went to church.  It’s so simple, really.  Why can’t my life be that simple?

Well, it can.  It doesn’t HAVE to be as complicated as I make it.  Yes, the list goes on and on, but that list will ALWAYS be there.  And it might not all get done, but that’s happened before, and we all survived.  Laundry doesn’t have to be folded before it’s worn again.  Sometimes it’s okay to just order a pizza for dinner .  The Christmas tree does not have to be all Pinterest fabulous this year:  1) because I don’t even Pinterest, and  2) because maybe I don’t even feel like putting it up at ALL this year and that’s okay .  It’s ALL okay. 

The one thing that is NOT okay, no matter what time of year it is, is losing that childlike wonder and joy when it is time to worship our Savior and Lord, whether it be an advent service, a family devotion, or a prayer to start the day.  THAT is where all my crazy begins – when I neglect the one source of true peace in my life. The Daily List may seem impossibly long and wildly unattainable, but it’s amazing how the rest of that stuff gets check, check, checked off some much more easily and joyfully when FIRST I make time for the one thing that is TRULY needful.

So today is Thursday.  The List is still there.  I need to get my butt to the Post Office today and buy stamps so I can get these Christmas cards MAILED.  It’s already December FOURTH, people, and I want this project off my kitchen table.  I want to get some painting done in the Packer basement, the dogs brushed so maybe they stop shedding so much, and my craft and sewing boxes finally unpacked (WHY this week do I feel the need to suddenly get this done?) I’m feeling energetic and motivated today.  I just know I’m going to crush it today.  I mean, I blogged already and it’s not even 10:00.  THAT is how great of a day it’s going to be.

But first, let me take a page out of Libby’s book.  Let’s start this day off with some time with Jesus.  I might not giggle and nod my head fervently as she does when I ask if she wants to read Baby Bible (well, I could try)… but I KNOW I will be filled up with everything I am lacking, and my awesome day will just be that much awesomer.  Just breathe, Mama.  Just breathe and keep it simple.