Saturday, April 27, 2019

Let it Flow

But the muddiest water clears
as it is stilled.
And out of stillness
life arises.

- Lao Tzu
Tao Te Ching
Verse 15

Home...Church...Friends...Buckaroos...Mom...homeschooling...surgeries...abilities...disabilities...young adulthood...graduation...Blue Collar Homeschool...LaJoy Educational Services...LaJoy Technology Services...

Oh, how muddy my life is right now!

I have described myself as being a Utility Player these days, needing a broad skill base, spreading myself all over the field.  It isn't always evident, other than the fact that I am not ever able to live into any sense of routine right now.  Our lives have little structure, so much is happening, and I tend to feel very unsettled when life is like this.  I handle it well enough, but my heart tends to struggle a lot. 

Interestingly, it isn't because we are shifting into a new normal as kids mature.  I have always been able to say "goodbye" to old stages relatively easily as I excitedly reach for what is to come.  But the Virgo in me prefers structure, planned adventures, and some semblance of a routine.

Well, I can kiss that goodbye right now! Hahaha!

First of all, let me share about Kenny.  His second surgery was far less painful than the first one, and was successful!  The anesthesia is still having an impact on his brain function, and we have had a couple of episodes of emotional breakdown since coming home as his brain fog gets the best of him and he just wants to feel "normal" again.  We are easing him back into functional life.  With FASD, the brain just responds differently and for Kenny, the ability to think well is hindered significantly for weeks after surgery.  We sort of lose him for awhile, but worse, he loses himself, and that is painful to witness.  However, there is great excitement as he can finally eat again!!  He lost 10 lbs during the 3 weeks while the tongue flap surgery was mid-process and he could only have liquids, but has gained it all back.  All the fistulas (holes) in his palate are now closed, but we now need to work hard on regaining and hopefully improving his speech.

While were in Chicago, plans changed and we ended up remaining there for 12 days, because it made no sense to come home and return 2 days later for post-op visits.  We also had to go a few days prior for a strategy meeting with his team, and were shocked to learn we will have to be traveling back and forth to Shriner's 10-12 more times over the next year and a half to complete all his work.  We anticipated 1 or 2 more visits, so this was surprising to us.  It also means the next year and a half will be as crazy as the past year and a half has been!  He has 1-2 surgeries left for additional bone grafting and implant preparation, and we were informed that his bi-lateral cleft (two clefts) has made his case much more complicated at this stage.  He will lose his two top front teeth and will have an implant of three across the top when all is said and done.

How does one plan for 10-12 trips out of state while trying to manage starting a new business and carry on real life?  I guess we will find out.

Flow like water...

Buckaroos is moving along slowly but quite nicely.  Contractors in our area are very busy so some work has been delayed due to scheduling, but we are utilizing our "in house labor" to the fullest and they are learning a lot!  Angie and Olesya, in Kenny's absence, did an extraordinary amount of work helping with concrete, framing, and drywall.  Angie would be the first to admit she doesn't normally care much for physical labor, but you'd never know it by the way she has dug in and really worked extremely hard!  While never lazy, I think she has surprised herself with the capacity to do a different kind of work :-)

Olesya has also really taken on a load of physical labor and each of the kids feels an inordinate sense of pride in all they are accomplishing there.  Olesya, in particular, is shining in new ways as her organizational strengths are being put to great use, and her confidence has soared. How sweet that has been to witness!  She even has gained enough confidence to ask to get her learner's permit and have us teach her to drive, something unfathomable even a year ago!  

One day this year, these three will be able to stand back and see a project that was far larger than they ever imagined tackling, and will feel they can take on the world.  All the stress, work, and yes...debt...are worth it to see these three begin to have hope in their future.  Together, they are finding they are an unbeatable team, and we are SO glad we have three with FASD who have different strengths and weaknesses and can cover for each other!

And again...we flow like water...

And where would we be without Matt and Josh, who so eagerly and willingly come alongside and offer their efforts with great passion and love!  Matt has designed a web site complete with a back end management system that was as easy as he could find so that we could take over and handle the day to day changes to it.  He integrated a contact management system, listened to us and incorporated ideas, and has spent probably a hundred hours or more trying to learn new tools so he could simplify its structure so that the kids could write blog posts and post them easily themselves.  How well he knows their brains!  Such thoughtful care, and so much excitement as he revealed it to them in its final form, glee evident on his face!

Here is their web site, which still needs content added and in a month or two the kids will begin blogging there as we get closer to opening, sharing their hearts and stories, and explaining their efforts to live into their mission which is growing ever more important to them.

Josh has helped with physical labor of the type that would be too complicated for the three to do on their own.  Unpaid, long hours, and with a sweet spirit, this young man is showing up in ways that really matter.  He is maturing into an amazingly thoughtful, responsible, lovely human being.

In between plumbing, electrical, concrete work, framing, drywalling, and more, there have been concerns and phone calls about my mom's failing health, doing a little planning for Kenny and Angie's graduations, and working on my own personal pet project, Blue Collar Homeschool.  With graduation upon us, and the growth our Facebook group has experienced, this "little project" has quickly become something far more than I anticipated!  Our group now stands at 6100 members, and this year, instead of 17 graduation certificates we sent out  59 to our Blue Collar grads and 59 to their moms as well to celebrate THEIR often unrecognized accomplishment in homeschooling to the end!  What a blessing it has been to lift up those who are often less recognized, and to read their notes of gratitude for being noticed.  It was a total of 122 certificates we created and sent out this year, including 4 for non-grads who had other accomplishments their families wanted to celebrate.  Once again, Team LaJoy stepped up to help.

There are so many irons in the fire right now, so many tentacles to track, and yet this is not about the glorification of "busy".  This is about real life converging in all kinds of exciting ways, which are just requiring a lot of focus right now.  Maybe that is what happens when four of your children are a year and four months apart in age and all moving into adulthood at the same time, chasing dreams, straddling independence, some needing more help than others to get there.  

I will admit I am getting lost in the shuffle, I am at times uncertain about where I am headed in the mix, and yet keep trying to remind myself that I can trust God has a "next" in mind for me as well that isn't solely about being a mom.  I am being diligent about attending to immediate needs, but sometimes my own needs get pushed aside and I need to be equally as diligent about that.  There are many unknowns ahead for me, but lots of lights shining in the distance to lead me where I am best suited.  Where that is, who knows?

But I am doing one thing extremely well right now, thankfully, and that is listening, not forcing, letting the ebb and flow guide me on my daily path.  Somehow, through the years, I have managed to learn the value in not setting a firm agenda and letting God move and weave in and through everything, for the outcome is always ten times better than anything I would manage.

Having worked my way with great intent through the Tao Te Ching with the kids a couple years ago, I find that it is very helpful right now as a reminder of how best to walk my path...

How can a man's life keep its course
If he will not let it flow?
Those who flow as life flows know
They need no other force:
They feel no wear, they feel no tear,
They need no mending, no repair.

-The Way of Life According to Lao Tzu
Verse 15 summary

So I am trying to keep the muddied waters clear by not stirring them too much.  I am trying to stay on course by letting The Way (both Christian and Taoist) flow around me, knowing I need not force anything to be OK.  I won't pretend I don't feel wear or tear...I do.  But far less than I might were I in a different head and heart space.  

My desk overflows, I must return to work and move from contemplation to action.  Life is good, God is good, we are blessed.