Thursday, December 6, 2012

My Advent Plan. Part 2 - the details

Another story.

The day before Thanksgiving, I really lost it. I had to leave the house. I had to get out. And I did it in a not so nice kind of way. I blew up about something but of course the blowing up part wasn't really about the something, it was about anything but the something and I just had to get away, from the house and the kids, and Martin. Grabbed the keys and ran out the door.

When you leave the house in a foreign country crying and you rarely drive yourself anywhere, and it's pitch black outside there really isn't much choice in where you can go safely. I'd say you probably shouldn't travel more than a few city blocks. An that's what I did, because the place I had to go, needed to get to, was, blessedly, only a few city blocks away.

I went to Church.

 I sat , praying so hard, praying for... I don't know... forgiveness, peace, humility, patience, one point I'm pretty sure I begged God to miraculously make it so that I could speak Polish, sillily thinking this would solve all my problems. Problems, problems. And all I could think about were the problems. Feeling trapped here in this country where everything is so different. Lonely, because no one around me was going through the same things I was. And just plain tired. Tired of never having a day for myself because there are no babysitters that can take 4 kids all at once. Tired of feeling like every single tiny little thing I want to do is one big struggle because none of it comes easy. Easy, like it used to be. Confident, Independent, and Energetic, like *I* used to be.

As I sat there more and more people began trickling in, as up to this point there had only been dim lights on and a few people sitting and kneeling quietly. Soon, about a fifth of the Church was full and the same nun as always went around lighting candles...  A row of old women sat up to a microphone and began talking... and then I realized they were praying. They were starting the Rosary.

I know all the prayers of the Rosary in Polish, so I joined them.

And I came to that same realization that we all come to when we are honest with ourselves... I can't change anything or anyone else, including Poland, I can only change myself. I can't change the fact that I don't speak the language (at least not right away...there was no miracle in the Church that evening ;) ) or that they don't have all the ingredients I need for my favorite recipe, or the right office supply products for schooling. I can't change that I have to go to three different stores to finish a project and that I have to take at least one if not all four children with me to do it in my huge car that doesn't fit anywhere. I can't change any of that. I just can't! I can either rail against these "great injustice's" or I can accept them and find peace with them.

Finding peace with them! Oh, so hard!

 I know of only two things that will make it easier, bearable, and hopefully, in the end, joyful...


Like grieving after a loss and finding a way to live in a world without someone or something that is gone, time is necessary. Not only to learn the new things I have to learn and connect with new people but to grieve the loss of things and people that I miss dearly.

And I have to learn to offer those incredibly difficult moments up as a sacrifice. And find joy in that. Perhaps the hardest part of all. But I don't think there is a single parent out there that hasn't found joy in some of the sacrifices they have had to make for their children, and so, hopefully, what little practice I have will serve me well.

That's my Advent plan. With some inspirational reading and a new group of wonderful women that I have joined I hope that I can truly use these next few weeks and the Spirit which they convey to wait patiently for what I need and offer up my frustrations for some good. And do so with JOY.

“May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.”
― Thérèse de Lisieux


  1. Beautiful prayer at the end! I will keep you in my prayers, I know how hard it is to move away from home to a foreign country. It's even harder for you not knowing the language or culture and being far from everything you know! I am planning on coming up to Krakow sometime in January, so maybe we would be able to meet up for coffee or the Old Town :)

    1. That would be great! I would love that! Please email me, or leave a comment on the blog...I'll respond!

  2. :(
    All I want for Christmas is for you to hire a part-time helper/babysitter (for all 6 of you)!!!
    Maybe a college student from Krakow?

  3. I have often thought how much more challenging my life here would be if our children were still at home. It's true it takes forever to find things and often something very common at home just doesn't seem to exist here. I'm rooting for you over here in Poznan.

    The LORD bless you and keep you;
    The LORD make His face shine upon you,
    And be gracious to you;
    The LORD lift up His countenance upon you,
    And give you peace.

  4. Hey lovely. Wow... I could have written your post. It's tough! I think all your insecurities get exaggerated by a 1000 and you just feel helpless and lost. I am right there with you.

    But one of our friends told me the other day that we have to deal with ourselves in ways that will push us towards God and if we let Him shape and refine us, we will get access to a grace that not many people have access to. Their lives hardly ever push them as close to God as your current life does. I was so encouraged that you drove to church. That is probably exactly where God wanted you.

    Praying for you!
    Love Janine

    1. Oh, I've thought of you Janine! If you ever decide to drive South please come see me! You have done this many times, how do you do it?! Aren't you tired!? ;) Thanks for commenting. It's nic eto know others understand.

  5. Keeping you in my prayers,


  6. About language - I can teach you. You can take your children, if they are capable to play without you and visit me, for instance, once for week. Or we can meet at your place sometimes.
    I also can help you find babysitter. Maybe not for every day, but I know students who speak english and have experience with kids. You can pay to someone, for example, two times in week, for three-four hours and rest during this time.
    Everything is possible. :)

    1. That is a good idea. We thought we would have regular help but it has fallen through. My kids would be fine without me, it's the babysitter I worry about! ;) Maybe we could meet once a week in the mornings, and Martin can watch them. He would be open to that. Oh, and a babysitter doesn't need to speak English. The kids need to speak more Polish so a babysitter that speaks Polish to them is preferable... can you email me?

    2. Call or write to me about tomorrow, please, because I have to do some arrangements. :)

  7. Next time you need to get away (with kids or without them) drive West to my house, Olivia.
    You are always welcome, any time, day or night. Just call if there's anything I can do.
    HUGS :)
    Ps. And I agree, everything is/seems to be more complicated in Poland. Even if you speak Polish very well...

    1. Thank you for the invitation, Karina. I am thinking that maybe one of these days I will leave the kids with Martin and come visit you. We can just chat. Maybe I can ask a few questions?

    2. Great! Let me know when you can come :)

  8. +2 what Olaboga said.

    Have you also considered Daycare/Preschool some days for a few hours? A break for you and good for the kids to meet some new friends their age and practice Polish?

    1. Witek, we have recently learned about these "cultural clubs" where you can drop the kids off for up to 5 hours at a time to learn crafts, music, dance, etc. For a very low price per hour/semester. This is going to save me! It's basically the fun parts of school, whenever you want to have your children participate. The kids can speak Polish, learn, and be gone long enough for me to sit down. I cant wait!

  9. Would be hard to give you a gift, but I can recommend book that swallowed me whole and helped me in my dark days ;) Very interesting inspiring autobiography + author moved a lot during his life.

    1. I'm going to look it up. Thank you for the suggestion!

  10. Hi! Total stranger here. Crying empathetic tears. And wishing I could hug you.

    PS the strength of your faith, and your passion for it, stirs a faint rekindling of my own (very lapsed) Christian faith. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.


    1. ...and knowing that strengthens *my* Faith. SO, thank you, Michelle, for your comment.

  11. What I'm about to say is kind of lame, but true. It gets better. I have been where you are and felt what you are feeling. Keep trudging through. The babysitter idea is great. Part-time pre-school is also a great idea and will help the little ones with their Polish. Polish language lessons for you are a super idea too. I hope that you still have access to the cleaning lady that helped you get the house in order. We sometimes do our grocery shopping on-line which is nice when you don't feel like hauling the family to the store. Things will start coming together. Soon you will find some cool things in Poland that you can't get in the States. We're all rooting for you and your family :) Take care.

    1. Oh, that's not lame Chris, I think it's just true, but hard to see in the moment. And thank you for the empathy. I can't tell most of the time if it's just me being neurotic and selfish or if it's just natural and regular to be this frustrated. I am going to take language lessons next semester...where, not sure yet, but I'm gonna do it. My confidence needs to be built up and the only way t do this is to just put myself out there, which will be easier with a babysitter. And yes! We have a very nice Pani coming once a week to help with cleaning...what a luxury!... but certainly helps my state of mind.