Guarantees

Last Friday my husband texted me to say he was feeling sick, needed to come home and go to bed. 

Cue elevated heart rate. 

Ok. Come on home. Symptoms? Sore throat, headache, fever. Ok. It could be strep. We’ve had strep go through the house in the past month. Or…it could be covid. Ok, not going to go there till I have to. 

By the next day his sore throat wasn’t very bad but he was passed out with a fever. Ok. In strep, sore throat usually gets worse, not better. I went ahead and canceled everyone’s weekend plans and we started treating it like possible Covid. 

And I felt like I was back on the river in my canoe, rapids ahead. Get ready. Adrenaline pumping. High alert. 

I wasn’t able to get him tested till Monday, results came back positive. I’m starting to paddle fast now. Ok, we need to get groceries in, call all the schools, email them the test results, let’s get this laundry caught up. House needs to be clean. 

We need to be ready. Cause, I’m probably going to get sick too. And what if my teenagers get sick too? And what if my kids get sick and need to go to the doctor? And I’m looking at my husband passed out in bed, the sickest I’ve ever seen him, and I’m wondering how I’m going to keep taking care of my family while I am equally sick? Big rapids ahead. Get ready. 

In the middle of all this, my parents called, said, we’ve already had covid, we’re not going to get it again this soon, come to my house so we can help. 

It didn’t take very long to realize this was definitely the best option. Then we went into a full-blown quick retreat. Everyone pack! Take out the trash, wash up those dishes, clean up this mess, we’re heading to Grandmas. And I felt this urgency. I had a headache coming on and all I could think was, I’m going to be in bed sick very soon and I need to get my kids settled first. 

So, we all packed up in a very short amount of time and headed out the door. 

And I never got sick. And none of my kids got sick. But my adrenaline is still pumping as I watch my husband, still not sure how his recovery is going to play out. 

And I want guarantees. I want to know with certainty that all my loved ones will remain healthy and happy and cared for. I want to know that I’ll pray for healing, and healing will happen. I want to know that instead of going through the rapids, I can just say, let’s skip this part of the river, and I’ll be magically transported to another peaceful section of water where no giant rocks loom right under the surface, ready to upset my boat. 

But here I am. No guarantees. My boat is tipping all over the place. Actually,  I think I’ve already jumped out of the boat and am dragging it. 

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

I guess I do have a guarantee, that God is going to use every single thing that happens in my life to shape me into the person he wants me to be. 

But, I am looking forward to some calm waters, coming soon I hope. 

Motherhood Brings out the Worst in Me

It’s been a day.  

I was in the middle of a confrontation with a melting-down child. I was seconds from physically removing said child and taking them to a quiet location where they could get calm without an audience…and then another child decided to come and stand right between us and start playing her recorder as loud as she could. And for a moment I felt frozen in time as I watched sheer ridiculousness unfold before my eyes. Several choice comments jumped in my mind and I may have muttered some of them at a slightly audible level. 

A couple hours later I asked the kids to clean their zones. The child of Recorder Fame pitched a fit and caterwauled the entire time she was cleaning. She sounded like a dying cat…I just might have mentioned that to her. 

Another, younger child, escaped the house without doing their cleaning. I chased them down, and when they responded that their zone WAS clean, I proceeded to point out, in sarcastic detail, the ten things that they had failed to clean. 

Earlier in the day, the kindergartner would not do his reading. So, I made him get in the car with me when I went to pick up kids from public school, and he had to sit there for the thirty minutes wait and read his book out loud so I could hear him. And I might have done a this-is-your-own-fault, when he complained about being bored. 

This morning, I had this random thought…I know God loves me, but does he Like me? 

At the end of days like today, I kind of feel like a not-so-nice person. I’ve yelled, been sarcastic, made a lot of kids unhappy with my expectations of them. I am not currently the hero of the hour. I am about to sit down to supper where I will be the bad guy who makes everyone eat vegetables. And then, I’m going to make kids do homework. And I’m not going to let them watch tv tonight. And then, they will all have to go to bed at bedtime…and brush their teeth. I will, in fact, win no popularity points tonight as I parent my brood. Though they still will all want me to hug and kiss them goodnight.

Being a mom sometimes just feels like it’s me at my worst. 

The mean me. 

The strict me. 

It’s hard to feel like a lovable, nice, person when you’ve just physically carried a screaming seven year old up the stairs to their room because they need to be in a quiet place to calm down. It’s hard to feel like a nice person when you’re dishing out the table chores after the meal and no one wants to be the one who has to sweep the floor, but you assign it anyway, cause you don’t want to sweep either. 

Maybe being a mom is so hard because it really brings out the worst in us. Our kids strip away all our pretensions of being sweet and patient, and instead show the real us. Someone who has some temper problems. Someone whose patience has real limitations. Someone who makes mistakes often. Someone who struggles to put others first. 

As I think about this, maybe God especially likes me in the role of mother. It keeps me honest and humble. No fake Esther pretending to be pure and holy. Instead it’s me: dirty, weary, spending half the day asking for forgiveness as I try again to be patient. Try again to see things from the child’s point of view and not just my own. Try again to not be cutting with my words. Try again to have grace. 

Me at my worst, is actually just me at my most real. And being real is what God wants from us. So, I guess I’m actually in a pretty good place. 

Big Siblings are the Best

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I did not grow up in a large family. I had one brother. He was and is a good brother. I’m thankful for him. But, my kids like to point out that I have no idea what it’s like to have multiple siblings. They usually bring this up when I am asking them to have more grace, more patience, for their younger siblings. You only had one brother! You have no idea!! And yes, they’re right. I can’t fully empathize. 

 

Right now, I am thinking about how fortunate my younger children are to have so many older siblings. 

 

I am sitting in my room, and earlier, I heard my 16 yr old in the kitchen, patiently showing the 7 yr old how to make a quiche. My 19 yr old buys books for her siblings for Christmas, always trying to get them excited about a new book series or author. She also bought a plane ticket for her 11 yr old brother so he could go visit her and spend some one-on-one time with her. My 18 yr old has moved into his own place. He regularly comes and picks up his younger brothers to come over and play video games, or his teen sisters to come over and hang out. My 14 yr old  is always picking up the 3 yr old for a cuddle and maybe a tickle fight. The 11 yr old helps the 5 yr old learn how to play Minecraft. 9 yr old sissy helps 7 yr old sissy pick out a special outfit. 

 

I can’t imagine anything better for the self-esteem of a child than to have a household of older siblings who give them special attention and help. 

 

It reaches to the spiritual realm too. Today my 9 and 11 yr olds got baptized. My heart is full. And there was a special joy to hear my 7 yr old declare that one day, she was going to get baptized too! She wants to be like her big siblings. And her big siblings are worth emulating. 

 

I have proudly watched my older children lead the way. And I hear the younger children being influenced. One day Mom, I’m going to go to college like Anna!…Maybe I might try going to a Bible College, like Levi did…When I’m big, I’m going to be a helper in VBS, like Ruthie!

 

No. My family is not one big happy party. We have fights, irritations, upsets. Sometimes one sibling doesn’t like another sibling for a period of time. Sometimes a child just needs a break from everyone in the family. But, right now, I am just aware of what an awesome influence my older children are on my younger kids. And I am thankful.