I recently deleted Facebook, so I am going to try to be better about updating my blog so that family and friends far away will still get an update on all things Opie.
Life is busy. Abigail is in Kindergarten, and we had a little trouble with teacher stuff at the beginning of the year, but that's all sorted out. Olivia is loving second grade. Nathan and Eliza are still just home with me. We do some mommy school stuff, go to story time, but in all honesty we spend a lot of time wondering how we're going to pass the time until the big sisters get home.
Swim team starts up this week for Olivia and Abigail. Well they're doing a trial week, and we'll see from there.
Aaron and I also decided to move forward with foster care. It's something that's been on both of our minds and Arizona is in a major crisis right now, so we decided to go for it. We had our first class last night, and it's seeming much more real. I fell asleep last night imagining what this whole scenario is going to be like, and I'm so excited/nervous/hopeful.
Looking at my calendar and the past few months have been so crazy. Hawaii, then threw a baby shower for a friend, jury duty and meetings with case worker, the Primary Program, 4 doctors appointments with lots of vaccinations! There's nothing on the calendar for next week (besides swim team three days a week, and our foster care class!) and that feels like a nice breath of fresh air. Though, truth be told, the busier I am, the happier I am. It seems to make me more efficient. Hopefully I'll be able to continue to find balance. I sometimes look at everything on my plate and feel like, "Wow, I'm going to get so burned out!" but so far, we're doing okay.
I wish I could more easily get pictures from my phone to this blog. I'll have to work on that. The kids are getting SO big. Literally. Today at Olivia's doctor appointment she was so far off the growth chart, the doctor couldn't believe it. He measured her again. Even if she was 10, she'd still be off the chart! Her projected height is 6'1''. All the rest of the kids are in the upper 90's percentiles. Huge kids! I was so impressed with Abigail and how she handled her shots. She didn't shed a tear. She didn't even flinch. Olivia cried, but still did great. I was so proud of them. Nathan and Eliza were not quite as in control. Lots of screaming and tears. No fun. And now all four of them are just grumpy, miserable little people who should sleep, but of course won't. Hopefully tonight they'll all sleep well. I can sure use it.
My church put together a series of videos based on the 12 steps. I have long loved the 12 steps of AA, and love the church's spin on them just as much (honestly the differences are negligible). And as I'm trying to sleep tonight I can't get these thoughts to stop spinning around in my head. Usually I just get out a pen and write in my journal. Tonight, however, I can't help but to think this message needs to be shared.
Addiction is a deadly disease. It is claiming the lives of thousands. And I believe this is largely because of shame. The moment an addict brings their problem to light, hope floods in. But the shame and stigma associated with addiction often causes the addict to continue to hide. I am certain my brother died because he was too ashamed of himself to get help. He didn't want to be where he was in life. He wasn't just loving living life, with no cares about who he hurt, as some may wrongfully believe of addicts.
Addicts live with more pain than we could ever realize.
I grew up with an alcoholic father. I am so grateful that my mom put me in Alateen when she did. Learning the 12 steps as a teenager absolutely changed my life. Especially Step 4. If you're unfamiliar, watch this video... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3FcZyje9n74&feature=youtu.be or if you can't... it's, "Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves." (The church adds the word "written") I did this when I was about 15. I started by just writing my priorities. My list looked something like this...
1. My boyfriend
2. My friends
3. My job
6. My Family
Pretty messed up, huh! And as I made that list it dawned on me how messed up it was. For one thing my family was at the very bottom of my list, and more importantly God wasn't even on it. I remember deciding right then to rewrite that list. With God at the top. And that single decision has directed the rest of my life.
These 12 Steps are life changing. For everyone. They are the Atonement in action. They are inspired. Please, if you are struggling with any kind of addiction, or know anyone who is, encourage them to forget this false sense of shame and get to a meeting.
Now these thoughts are floating around with some other thoughts from a Max Lucado book I'm reading, Facing Your Giants. There is a chapter about the Brook of Besor. This is a lesser known David story from the Bible. I think everyone is familiar with how he slew Goliath, but then what happened? Well after he went through a lot of stuff, he finds himself with an Army of 600. And then he and that army are raided by some bad guys. They take the women and children. The Army turns their anger on David who should have protected them. David could easily just give up at this point. This is like the millionth time he is finding himself in a situation where people want to kill him. It would have been easy to just give up. And that would have been the end of David.
But he doesn't give up. He turns to God, and he is directed and listens! He directs his army's anger at the true enemy and they faithfully go out and search for their families. This isn't easy. They have no clue where the enemy could be. But they have faith. And eventually they are led to the enemy's camp. However, right before they find out where their families are, 200 of them give up. They decide not to go on. They are just too tired. They're worn out. They lack faith. But I think more than anything they are tired of fighting, what seems like a hopeless battle. I imagine this is how addicts feel. That hunger is always there. That justification that it's okay this just one time, that always gets out of hand, is always playing over and over in their minds. And sometimes, they just can't fight it anymore, and they give up. They let the world go on without them, and they check out.
Eventually David and the 400 who went with him find their women and children, and score a bunch of loot. As they head back, they find the other 200 still there. Initially the 400 do not want to share the spoils of their victory with those who chose to stay behind. In fact, just read the words straight from the source... (1st Samuel 30)
And David came to the two hundred men, which were so faint that they could not follow David, whom they had made also to abide at the brook Besor: and they went forth to meet David, and to meet the people that were with him: and when David came near to the people, he saluted them. 22Then answered all the wicked men and men of Belial, of those that went with David, and said, Because they went not with us, we will not give them ought of the spoil that we have recovered, save to every man his wife and his children, that they may lead them away, and depart. 23Then said David, Ye shall not do so, my brethren, with that which the LORD hath given us, who hath preserved us, and delivered the company that came against us into our hand. 24For who will hearken unto you in this matter? but as his part isthat goeth down to the battle, so shall his part be that tarrieth by the stuff: they shall part alike. 25And it was so from that day forward, that he made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel unto this day.
The first thing that I noticed is that David saluted them. And then he rebukes these people who felt like these losers didn't deserve anything. I imagine the men who stayed behind probably agreed with them. I am sure they felt so ashamed of themselves. Those were their families they let down, because they were too tired to go on. I imagine they spent a lot of that time beating themselves up. I imagine a few probably tried to follow a few days later, greatly regretting their decision to stay. But soon lost hope and turned back. (If I'm not being too obvious in my analogy, forgive me for over explaining, but in my mind, this is like those addicts who try to stop on their own. Who maybe go days, weeks, even years without slipping up in their addiction. But then they fall back into the grasp of addiction.)
David's reaction is a great example of how we can treat addicts in our lives. He gave them their dignity back. He treated them like humans, who were equal to those who didn't need to rest. They didn't get just some of the spoil, but "they shall partake alike". They were treated as equals. They were saluted.
How would you feel if you were one of the 400 who fought, and went on, even though you were pretty darn tired yourself? Angry? Resentful? Jealous? How do you feel about people who struggle with addiction? Perhaps you've had the fleeting thought that a heroin user deserved to die. "One less junkie in the world." Or you've thought, "Man, I'd like to just check out of life for a while like that, but too bad I care too much about my family, that I could never do that!" We need to change this attitude, and realize that yes these people did make a decision to stay at Besor (or start using a numbing mechanism of their choice) but once they made that poor decision once, they were stuck! You can say a heroin addict chose to do heroin, and you would be correct. That first time, they were absolutely in control, and made a horrible mistake. I am sure there are few heroin users in the world who wouldn't do anything to be able to go back to that moment and undo it. And I'm using heroin as an example for a few reasons. Obviously one, because of my brother's particular addiction. But also, because I believe there is more of a stigma associated with that word, and I'm trying to end that. I think the more I use it, maybe it will help. I know even in my own family we have a hard time saying the word. We would say, "that stuff" or "crap" or whatever... no one wanted to use the word heroin. And we still don't. But that's a whole other post! My point here is, yes, those who chose to stay at Besor made one bad decision. Do they deserve to be judged for the rest of their lives, and never get any kind of love or respect ever again because of that one poor decision?
Addiction knows no boundaries these days. There is no shame in having a problem bigger than you. There is so much help available. Start with these amazing videos. Find a meeting. Break your silence a reach out to someone. The moment you let go of your shame, you are back in the fight.
I know it's too late for my brother. I wish so much I could share these videos with him. But I can do it in his honor, and live the rest of my life trying to speak out against the way addicts are treated. I can try to help whoever crosses my path. Hopefully some day on a grander scale. But it's my prayer this blog post reaches someone who needed to see it.
This page might take a while to load. I embedded the pictures from our One Drive, and it's loading kind of slowly on my computer, just fyi. And if you click on it, it should let you see it bigger. Sorry, this is the easiest way to get lots of pictures from phone to blog.
Heard a really cool story about why this is popular in Hawaii... From Wikipedia, "According to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, prevailing local lore credited the gesture to Hamana Kalili of Laie, who lost the three middle fingers of his right hand while working at the Kahuku Sugar Mill. Kalili was then shifted to guarding the sugar train, and his all-clear wave of thumb and pinkie is said to have evolved into the shaka as children imitated the gesture." So basically this guy lost his three fingers, and he waved at people as they passed on the train, and people thought he was doing this with his hand, and did it back, not knowing he was really missing those fingers. And now it's a widely used symbol used to convey the Aloha spirit.
Buddhist temple... this place was one of the most beautiful I've ever seen.
Hawaiian palace. Learned a lot of cool history here. Like, did you know this was the first palace to have electricity? Even beat the White House!
Doing a moonlight hike of Waimea Falls.
Yummy fruit from a little overpriced, rip off the tourists fruit stand... but still worth it.
Had to get in a game of disc golf. Which is not very popular in Hawaii, they only had one course, and we had it all to ourselves. And I think we learned why... the wind was killer! But who am I kidding, I don't think I would have done much better without it!
Dole Plantation was another highlight... mainly for these whips! TOPPINGS! So heavenly.
Shark's Cove... we saw lots of beautiful cool fish here. And also cut up my fingers, toes and back on the sharp rocks!
Best fish and chips ever.
The view from the top of Diamond Head. It was a way harder hike than I was prepared for. But the views at the top were beautiful, and were debatablely worth it.
This was the closest we got the Arizona, at the Pearl Harbor memorial, due to lightning. It was still a very beautiful, solemn place.
Polynesian Cultural Center luau. It was delicious! And such a wonderful beautiful place.
One of my favorite things I learned here was during a video about Hawaii. There was just this one quote that kept ringing through my mind for the rest of the trip "We already have everything we need." And it seems the culture of Hawaii is that the Earth takes care of us, as we take care of it. I loved that.
Did an awesome temple session. The people here were amazing, and I just loved how they didn't seem to take themselves as seriously as a lot of temple workers. It was just a different feeling, and so fun.
I love this picture Aaron took. These pools look like they're flowing out to the ocean, and that light beam coming down... just heavenly.
And that's the gist of our trip! Not pictured is our sunset Stand Up Paddle Board Tour, lots more yummy food, fun shopping, laying on the beach, reading books, watching the surfers, and probably some more that I can't think of because I'm exhausted! So grateful for everyone who helped take care of my babies while I was gone. And it's amazing what a solid week just being husband and wife can do for a 10 year old marriage. It was wonderful.