I’m Blessed

Yesterday we arrived at church, which seems nothing short of miraculous each week.  Getting out the door Sunday mornings is always a struggle.  We managed on time, hair brushed, and in mostly clean/season appropriate clothes.  I was carrying a big box of stationary and my package of seeds which were part of my lesson for the kids Sunday School class I teach.

My class went well, the kitchen volunteers set out some treats, and the kids all started running around and playing after their snacks were done, before church started.
We go to a small church.  Most Sundays are around 80-100 people I’d guess.  Some people use the nursery, some keep the babies in their laps.  We do sort of a combination on a week by week, child by child basis.  We used to be so opinionated on our views of children in church, but like nearly all parenting theories, certain kids don’t fit them.  I love that our church doesn’t pressure parents to remove their children from the service, and yet it doesn’t guilt the parents for using the nursery.  We have all kinds of parents there.  I’d say most parents keep their kids/babies with them, but the nursery was pretty packed full yesterday, too.
During the snack/break time, David started punching some of the other kids.  Silje in particular…of course.  He had had a bad morning at home, so Knut took him aside.  He started having an all out tantrum, so Knut had to move him/drag him out to the van.  Like I said, it’s a small church, and there’s not many corners to take a kid.  
 It’s hard to give the full picture of what David struggles with, and yet there’s no rule saying I have to give the full picture.  Little snippets might be enough.  We’ve had recommendations to use the option of medication for his attention issues that don’t fall cleanly into any diagnosis but we had some major concerns in going that route.  The decision to homeschool him was decisively made when we found out from his preschool screening he would likely be in some kind of special ed at the school.  We were certain he could learn to control his body and mind with the right kind of tools, without the stigma and teasing that would come in a classroom.
An educator we met through a homeschool convention has been helping us with couple of his learning disabilities, and we’ve overcome most of them through her methods.  Fresh air, exercise (and lots of it!), some eye exercises, some alternative learning methods, and tricks, as well as a better picture of how his brain processes and stores information are all part of the recipe.  For his attention issues in particular, (sometimes unable to focus, other times unable to stop focusing), she pointed out that we had been addressing the problem from only a behavior angle, which is one part of the equation, but she strongly encouraged us to also address the biology of what was going on inside him, outside of his control.  She recommended that we try giving him fish oil every day.  She said for many children, they’re not getting enough healthy fats and their brain suffers from it.  
So a couple of years back we started giving him fish oil every morning, and his 3 hour tantrums shrunk to about 5 minute tantrums after a few weeks of him on it.  I’m not saying it works with all kids, because I’ve heard it doesn’t, but we noticed an enormous transformation in him.  
Life has gotten pretty normal for him, and most people probably don’t notice his differences anymore.  He does lose control sometimes, but I suppose you could say the same thing about most people.  His passion and strong will hasn’t subsided in the least, but over the years, that has become one of the things I love most about him.  I don’t want him tamed; I want him pointed in the right direction.

Sometime in the last 2 weeks I ran out of his supplements for about 5 days, and so he went off of his fish oil.  The massive tantrums have returned, and even though we got some more for him, it takes awhile to build up and level off again.  We also usually watch certain things in his diet.  Easter screwed that up completely as well, so it was a perfect storm for “old-David” to return.  Our sweet, big-hearted little boy was really, painfully, struggling to control himself once again.

So of course, Sunday morning when the piano music was calling everyone to come sit in the sanctuary was when one of his meltdowns started.  In the past they have gotten so bad that I physically can’t handle them (he’s not a toddler anymore!) so Knut took him out to the car to let him kick it out.  We also hold him tightly in our lap and that helps the most.  He relaxes better when he gets that stubborn hug from one of us.  This lasted around a half hour.
I was trying to drop Ingrid off at the nursery, and she wasn’t so keen on letting me go.  So I stayed with her for a bit, and I heard the music starting in the sanctuary.  I had passed Silje on the way to the nursery, and she asked if she could sit with her friend for the service, which I said was fine.  I usually like her to stay with us during the service, but since neither Knut or I could make it in the sanctuary yet, I figured it would be fine this week.  One of my friends popped her head in the nursery and told me that Knut wanted to send me a message that he was out in the van with David, and to go ahead and sit down without him.  
It was then that I realized that Solveig and Elias were unsupervised.  I carried Ingrid out, and found Elias waiting for me, right where he was supposed to be.  Ingrid was fussy since she was so tired, I told him to come with me in the nursery until she settled down.  Solveig hadn’t found our seats, but since she knew everyone there, she picked one of my friends, (the mom of one of her little friends) plopped on her lap and snuggled in for the beginning of the service.
I love our church.  Oh my goodness, the people there just bless me.
I mouthed “is she fine there?” to my friend and she nodded that Solveig was just fine sitting in her lap.  So Elias and I went back to the nursery with Ingrid.  Eventually Elias and I got to steal away from Ingrid in the nursery and sit in the service again.  He just sat in my lap while Silje was with her friend, Solveig decided to go play with Ingrid, and David was still in the van with Knut.
As you can see, between the services is a constant head count.  I feel like every conversation has the constant: ‘1,2,3,4,5…1,2,3,4,5…1,2,3,4,5…) in the background of my brain.  Everyone was accounted for.
I was beginning to worry I’d have to go out to the van and relieve Knut because he was supposed to serve communion with the other elders after the sermon, but about 10 minutes into the sermon, David and Knut joined us in our row.
Still, it was a special, special time to sit for awhile with just Elias.  He treasures our one on one time.  After the sermon, when the pastor began explaining the sacrament of communion to the congregation, explaining the blood and the body, Elias looked up at me and whispered, “Mommy, is Jesus still dying on the cross?”
“No honey.  But he’s still forgiving.”
He is still forgiving.  Still.  I heard myself say the words, and they seeped deeper into my heart.  

I’m so blessed by communion Sundays.  I was so blessed yesterday by the number of people who love my kids there.  I’m blessed by the grandma volunteering in the nursery, and the pastor who has joy hearing babies make their noises in the service.  I’m blessed that Jesus is still forgiving.  I’m blessed that I get to go to a place where the gospel is preached.  I actually got to hear snippets of the service where in Matthew, Jesus talked about worry, and how he desires to lift our burdens.
I’m blessed that Knut is such an involved Dad, and that David, even though he has a bad day from time to time, doesn’t even resemble the kid he was even a couple of years ago.  His bad days, that are now few and far between remind me of how it used to be, and how far we have come.  Oh, we’ve come so far!

David sat on the other side of me after church, and said, “I’m sorry, Mommy.  Sometimes it’s just so hard…”  Absolutely.  The struggle runs deep.  The love runs deeper.

I’m so blessed by the freedom-giving, burden-lifting forgiveness that is still there.  The rest of the week just isn’t the same without that message heaped on me every Sunday.


  1. Mom says

    Thanks so much for sharing this today! It brought me to tears. David’s words are so true. “Sometimes it is just so hard…” I’m learning that this week as I am so dependent on others after my surgery. The Lord is taking this opportunity to speak to me (again) about worry and lifting my burdens. :) You are such a blessing, Gretchen!

  2. says

    I am having an extremely difficult morning. While I know I’m blessed, I am having a hard time feeling like I am.

    My 2 year old has been in a constant state of tantrum-ing All. Morning. Long. I’m already exhausted from the fighting with him, and it’s only 10:30 am.

    My 1 year old has come down with a cold (and a case of the crabbies as well) so he just wants a permanent place on my hip. If I sit down with him, he screams. But constantly standing with him on my hip is beginning to make my back scream. I’m trying to determine which scream is worse.

    My 2 older children are in some sort of slump and are resisting me at every turn. It’s our last week of school so I am trying my best to just plow on through to the end, but we have accomplished zero today so far.

    I’m trying so hard to keep perspective because our little town is reeling from the shock of the sudden death of a young wife and mother of 2 yesterday. I keep telling myself that I need to be thankful I am alive, my babies are alive and healthy, we have so much to be thankful for…but while I want nothing to do than to hug my children close, they are making it so hard that I honestly would rather have distance from them instead. It’s kind of like that saying, “I love you, but I just don’t like you very much right now.”

    So I’m blessed. I really am. Maybe if I keep repeating that to myself today I will begin to truly feel it.

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