Sunday, November 30, 2008

Grandparents of Healing

I think most parents want a life with as little suffering as possible for their children. Most of us would give everything we have to protect our children from needless pain. I'm not talking about keeping them happy all the time. This isn't a post about permissive parenting, about giving kids everything they want so they never feel sad. I'm talking about real suffering. ...the suffering of being hurt emotionally and physically by other people, the suffering of racial prejudice, hunger, disease, and fear.

Mango & I have the good fortune of being able to keep Mane safe from a lot of life's suffering right now. We won't be able to protect her from everything forever, but we will have given her a good place to start that wall-hanging that says, "Home is where your story begins." We can build a foundation for her. We can help her walk out into life as a whole human being, having not been harmed by abuse or neglect or even hunger. She will have grown up in a place where people love her, where her parents love each other, where people have set an example of how to serve each other and also set healthy boundaries.

This is something we have not been able to do for Vespera, and I am just now coming to a place where I can even speak of it. Our hearts are wrung and compressed by the weight of her stories sometimes. We would give anything and everything, to keep her safe, and to have kept her safe as a child. Yet it is somehow too arrogant for us to assume that she would have wanted that. Or that we would somehow have been the answer. If we had been able to give her a place to live her whole life long, where she did not suffer, she would not be who she is today. She would not have the connection to her culture or her birth family, and we could never ever take those things from her. We must, instead, bear witness to the pain because we were not there to prevent it. We will hear those things and hold them in our hearts and let the pain pierce us, too, because there is very little else that we can do.

...except to become grandparents of healing. My Montana friend said that to me the other day, and the phrase stuck with me. Mango & I can provide a place where Vespera finds a balm and a healing. And someday she will have children, and those children will have a different legacy. ...and we will be grandparents of healing, grandparents of children who will be protected from suffering in the same way that we protect Mane...not from all suffering, but from specifically the types of things that parents were put here on earth to prevent...abuse, neglect, abandonment...and the aftermath of brokenness that follows from those types of suffering.

Something I learned when I was studying therapy and that I have found to be profoundly true in life is that people cannot make different and better choices for their own children until and unless they are willing to face the reality of the things that have caused them suffering in their own lives. It's hard to make different choices unless and until you do the work of healing. And the work of healing requires space, time, and, often, the presence of loving people.

So, we are here to provide the space for healing for Vespera, to be the loving people, to cover that space with prayer, and to offer what little bit of wisdom we have. We are here to witness the beautiful things that often come in the healing, the depth and joy and contentment that can come of having known sorrow. that we might be parents of whole and deep, intense, passionate, vibrant, compassionate children...and, someday, grandparents of healing.

The song by Point of Grace called The House That Mercy Built comes to mind. I claimed it as a song for my house long before I knew all that would transpire there, and I claim it for this house here, too.

A light in the distance
Welcomes those wayfaring souls
Come this far
A heart grows tired, faith grows cold
Wandering down the winding road
Just simply knock, the door will open

There is a house that mercy built
There is a place where brokenness is healed
There is a voice saying peace be still
There is a house that mercy built

Mercy will find you
Though you've given up
In the middle of what seems like nowhere
He'll shelter you beneath His wing
His love will cover every need
Just simply seek and you will find

There is a house that mercy built
There is a place where emptiness is filled
There is a voice saying peace be still
There is a house that mercy built

There is a house that mercy built
With blood and tears
We've nothing left to fear
We live in grace
Here in the safe embrace of God
The mercy of God

There is a house that mercy built
There is a place where grace has
Been revealed
There is a voice saying peace be still
There is a house that mercy built
Rest in the hope
Rest in the peace
There is a house that mercy built

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Fight the anxiety...Naturally

I wanted to share some of the things in my collection that I use for stress and anxiety relief, aside from blogging and journaling and a lot of prayer. I very much believe that we are whole human beings, meaning that mind, body & spirit are interrelated. Writing a blog or a journal, praying, and meditating on scripture attend to the mind and spirit, but these things can also bring healing to the body through the healing of the mind and spirit. Likewise, I believe that treating the body can sometimes bring healing to the mind and spirit. Who cannot relate to the way that a good night's sleep can change our whole outlook on life? Or the way that physical pain produces impatience and crabbiness. Alleviating the bodily ills brings healing, or, at the very least, makes way for healing in the mind and spirit.

So, here are the body remedies I use - aside from trying to eat well, sleep enough, and exercise regularly...

First, I do drink coffee. In moderation, coffee gives me a boost of mental clarity. This helps when I'm tired and mentally foggy. It's also a bit of a "comfort food" and helps me feel relaxed just by smelling good and sitting nearby in my favorite mug.

Too much caffeine, however, as we all know, can lead to restlessness and higher blood pressure. For me, it also creates too much stomach acid. So, I have to pay attention to my body, and stop when enough is enough. For me, this averages out at about 1 cup of coffee a day - some days 2 and some days none.

When anxiety (or too much coffee) has tied my stomach in knots, I drink teeccino:

Teeccino is full of naturally good-for-you ingredients, including lots of potassium for a healthy heart and a calmer nervous system. (Potassium is also good for menstrual cramps, as it's related to the ways that nerves and muscles fire messages.) The biggest perk for me is that teeccino is alkaline, meaning that it reduces stomach acid. AND you make it in a coffee pot, it looks and smells like coffee, and the flavor is very reminiscent of coffee.

My very favorite soothing drink, though, when I know I need a serious stress reliever is Kava Stress Relief by Yogi Teas.

It works. It's a little sweet, tastes good with cream, and also relieves minor aches and pain.

Finally, I've discovered Rescue Remedy.

I'm very much a skeptic with regard to this kind of thing. I don't know why. I just don't see how a little Bach Flower Remedy can help with real life anxiety. But, I can tell you this. I've used it 3 times in the past week, and it has worked within minutes. It's a short term homeopathic stress remedy. It worked so well I told my mom about it!

So, there you have it.

Philippians 4:6-8 says,
"Do not be anxious about anything,
but in everything,
by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God.
And the peace of God,
which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, whatever is true,
whatever is noble,
whatever is right,
whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely,
whatever is admirable—
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—
think about such things."