1 day ago
Monday, March 12, 2012
Oh right. I have a blog.
You know what I’ve discovered over the last five months of internet silence?
I like to write.
I’ve also discovered I have voices in my head. They speak to me all the time, yammering on and on. Sometimes quietly, sometimes insistently but definitely ALL. THE. TIME. And they’re good, friendly voices. In case you were wondering.
I don’t know if other writers are like this (and I use the word “writer” very, very loosely here) but throughout the days - as I live my life - I have story lines going in my head. That’s what the voices are all about.
(Actually, it’s just one voice and it sounds a lot like me but more narratorish. Think Masterpiece Theater only more of a smart ass and with a lot of Nutella on board. Kind of like that.)
If I blog regularly, The Voice is under control because I’m getting it all out. But the last 5 months of not using my bloggy outlet for The Voice has left me with stories and Pulitzer Prize-winning pieces that are dying to be read.
Because let’s face it folks, my life is so fascinating that both of my readers DESERVE to hear about it.
Let’s go back in time, shall we? Let’s try to figure out why Karenpie has been invisible. And just to warn you - it’s not pretty. And it’s all about me. See up there where it says “Karenpie”? That’s why I can do that.
Narcissism at it’s best, people.
Where was I? Oh right . . . . it all started around 15 months ago with some personal disappointments. It was like I had entered an alternate universe where nobody GOT me. Actually, it was just a few people but it caused my self confidence to plummet.
Added to that was an injury to my Achilles - nothing that needed surgery but it sidelined me and I stopped exercising. Fast forward a couple months and 15 pounds later and I was still using it as an excuse to not exercise. And again with the plummeting self confidence. Because when I don’t like the way I look it puts me in a bad mood. Like constantly. And when I’m in a bad mood I solve that problem with Cheetos. Or Nutella. Or anything with butter.
Oh, and we also had 5th grade homework which made me want to firebomb the school. Fortunately I’m over that.
Summer rolled around, the rainy season was over and things started perking up. I began exercising again, feeling better about myself and the personal misunderstandings were a thing of the past.
Then . . . . . our German exchange student arrived.
Let’s just pause for a few moments of silence. Please feel free to pray for me while you’re being silent.
We entered our exchange experience - I’ll be honest here - without a lot of thought or prayer. See, normal and mature people who are considering an action that will drastically affect their families usually do so with thought, with consideration. They would maybe take more than a day to make this decision. They may pray about it and ask others for input.
Not me. Nope. Uh-uh. Nada. My consideration went more along the lines of;
Me: “Hey (talking to the family in the car) what would you guys think about having an exchange student stay with us for the year?”
Everyone else: “I don’t know.”
Me: “Dan and Jennifer did it and they loved Ruben. I think we should do it.”
So we did. And since August 17, 2011, our family has been hijacked by a 15 year-old German boy.
We expected a boy with maturity and self-control, who took pride in his schoolwork. We didn’t expect perfection but we did expect the best of the best. We expected someone who would positively represent his country, his exchange organization and his family. We hoped he would get involved in sports, school activities and youth group at church. We expected him to be teachable.
My personal expectations of this experience were more emotional. I didn’t care about learning about another culture or language - I just wanted another kid. How cool to have an instant teenager! I had fantasies that we’d all love him and he’d be a big brother to my kids. He would be a part of our family and we’d be part of his. I had visions of visiting him in Germany, that we’d keep in touch over his lifetime, going to Germany when he got married and rejoicing when he became a father. I had a secret hope that he’d call me Mom.
So far, none of that has happened. Marius gets involved in sleeping, Legos and Nerf wars and doesn’t let us engage him in a personal way. He gets involved in chores after we remind, request, nag and then come down hard on him. He gets involved in schoolwork when I take away all of his electronics. He is never wrong and always excuses his behavior or blames someone else. We saw, almost immediately, a level of selfishness and immaturity that was surprising. He seems to be completely unaware of other people and how his actions affect them.
We gave him weeks to settle in and get used to us, then the bottom fell out of his world - we started treating him like one of our kids. That’s when the frustration began mounting. Let me tell you - the level of tension in our home has been unprecedented. It doesn’t matter how we try to teach, reason, explain - whatever - this boy won’t change his behavior. If we teach him to do a chore, he conveniently “forgets” how to do it the next time, and the next time, and the next time. If we explain how he is annoying one of the kids, Marius “does not understand” or says, “It was a joke”. We repeat ourselves over and over, about the same issues, with no change in behavior.
I started wondering, is it us? Are we the problem? But (unfortunately) we heard the same frustration and concerns from teachers at school. The behavior didn’t start/stop at the door to our home.
We reached our saturation point during Christmas break. Three weeks of togetherness was about 21 days too long. We knew we needed to do something so . . . lightbulb moment . . . . I called the family together - without Marius - and said,
“Guys, we have to be proactive. We’re going to meet every evening, while Marius is in the shower, and pray together as a family. We desperately need God’s help. We know God gave us Mars for a reason and we’re supposed to be learning something. We don’t want to miss the lesson, right? Also, what if Marius never changes? We have to know - beyond a shadow of a doubt - that when we put him on the plane back to Germany we’ve done all we can and done it WELL. With graciousness and patience and lovingkindness. God is the only one who can do it. We’ve been muscling along - forcing and straining and trying - and it’s gotten us nowhere. Plus, the only way Mars is going to change is if he has Jesus as his Savior.”
So that’s what we’ve done. We meet together nightly and pray. It took 5 months of tension, strain and anxiety before I /we started doing the only thing that would help.
Can anyone give me a big, “DUH”?
Which just goes to show that you can be a person with a pretty strong faith and still have your head up your butt. In case you were wondering.
Since that time, God has been faithful. The tension is lessening. We have more peace in our home. I no longer have chest pain and anxiety attacks. And it’s not because Marius is changing - it’s because we are. We’ve dialed down the expectations and are letting God shoulder that burden.
If you think about us, you can pray too.
We’re still highly aware that June 2nd is the day Marius’ returns to Germany but we’re not clinging to it anymore.
We’ve decided to cling to God instead.
So that’s the news from Karenpie land. The reason for the disappearance and lack of communication wasn’t anything earth-shattering. We’re all alive and healthy and for that, I am imminently grateful to God. I’m glad that whatever He’s trying to do in our family, He’s using an exchange student from Germany - not cancer or death - to teach us.
We’re going to make it just fine.