Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pray 4 Me

Why is it that I feel compelled to write after a bad day or with a heavy heart? I promise that my life is filled with much to smile about. But, for whatever reason, I want to record my thoughts whenever events of the day have taken a downward direction or sometimes a straight nose-dive. Maybe it's therapeutic for me. I just know I gain a lot of insight when looking at things in retrospect. So, hang in there with me. More joyful blogs are coming...just not this one.

So, it was around 3:50 this afternoon when I texted my husband this short message, "pray 4 me". Of course, he calls immediately. Because I have a screaming child in the backseat, I cannot hear a word he is saying. I say, "I can't hear you...just pray for me...don't worry, I'm not going to beat him." Click. Even my customary "I love you" didn't get said. I was in one of those mommy crossroads and I wasn't exactly feeling the love at that moment. I knew I could choose to let this screaming, tantrum throwing child get the best of me and act like I'm 2 years old myself or I could keep my composure, be patient and act like a grown up. I was trying hard to choose option B. I didn't even know where my husband was. I just knew, at that moment, I needed his support.

The day had been perfect. Beautiful, sunny skies prompted me to take the kids to the park after school. While playing on the playground, I watched the boys play and just soaked up the moment. After a while, the slides weren't quite so interesting anymore and Eli found his way to the water fountain. I knew that there was no stopping him from the thrill of playing in the water, so I decided not to pick that battle. He happily pushed the button and giggled as he turned the water on and off. Of course, the next step is to put his hands in the water and before I knew it, he was dripping wet. "Oh well," I thought, "it's just water."

After 5 minutes or so, I decide it's time to go. That's when a nice day at the park quickly shifts to the type of day when I have to make a hasty appeal for prayer. My soaking wet child goes limp noodle on me and starts SCREAMING on the ground. I have to stop and say a quick thank you to the good Lord that no one was there to witness it. After that acknowledgement, I pick him up by the arms and say, "Stand Eli". The wet noodle is something we've unfortunately become accustomed to and this is my typical reaction. I will hold him by the arms until his feet are planted squarely on the ground. Just when I think he's ready to stand, he goes down again. So, up and down we go. Obviously, this isn't working. I decide to sit with him while he gets his composure. We make 3 or 4 attempts to get back up. No luck. He's a sobbing, screaming, wet mess. Mommy is still doing pretty good. However, I can't toot my horn too loudly because I probably would've been much worse had witnesses been on hand. Oh, and can I mention I have 2 other children to worry about during this little episode? Finally, he stands and I give him about a nanosecond before I start half dragging him to the car. I was walking so fast that I didn't give him a chance to do the wet noodle routine. After bucking me, I finally get him in the carseat and hear the seatbelt click. Whew...glad that's over.

Did I think I'd be so lucky? Eli is a screamer but the scream that came out of his mouth after that would make every hair on your head stand up. No, we are NOT having that. That scream is utter defiance if I've ever heard it and merited a spanking. Yes, I do spank...don't hate me for it. Finally, I'm in my seat and that's when I make the text.

This is when I pause to say how lucky I am to be married to Jason. He was at Lowe's, a very manly store, when he got my text. My man stops in the middle of the aisle, with his buggy loaded with electrical wiring, closes his eyes and prays for me. He told me that everyone probably thought he was half crazy. How that simple act touches me in unspeakable ways.

Thirty minutes later, he pulls into the driveway to find me sitting in a lounge chair reading a book. I'm hardly the picture of a frantic mother at her wits end pleading for prayer. Eli was inside watching cartoons and eating goldfish in his booster seat, the baby was asleep and Jacob was playing his DS. What happened? All I can say is prayer happened. The fruit of my husband's prayer brought immediate peace to our home. Moreover, the exact page I was reading when he pulled up spoke directly to my heart about the situation I had just experienced. It's from Priscilla Shirer's Discerning the Voice of God and reads:

Like most moms, I have been brought to tears and very often to my knees before the Lord...As I have taken to heart God's command to look and watch, I have begun to see God's hand where I hadn't before. With spiritual vision, I now can see that God is using my children to produce the fruit of the Spirit in me, something for which I have fervently prayed. I can see how the Lord is using them to temper me and make me more fully into the woman He wants me to be. Seeing what God is up to has restored my confidence that He is speaking and working in my situation.

I colored the passages that spoke the loudest to me. I've always approached parenting with the attitude of what can I teach my children? Rarely do I see it the other way around. After reading this, I realize God is using them to teach me a few things. These are things with a divine impact and a divine lesson. Sometimes I fail, sometimes I succeed and sometimes I simply need the help of prayer. Thank you, my husband, for looking half crazy for your wife. Not only did you help bring about peace to a frazzled mother but you have shown me love in the deepest of ways. Prayer changes things. It did today.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Green Underwear

Since becoming a mom to 3, I have developed somewhat of a memory problem. There is so much to remember between homework, laundry, dinner, schedules, practices, bathing, etc. My husband, who works with computers, says that I have a server (hence, the computer lingo) for a brain. However, I feel like lately the server has lost a few files. In the past week, I forgot to pick Jacob up from school (he gets out at 2:50 and it was 3:08 when I remembered), forgot a close friend's baby shower and finally the ultimate no-no, I forgot it was St. Patrick's Day until I saw Jacob off to school in his very blue and white shirt. Yes, I sent my child into a school wearing ZERO green with eager children waiting to pinch at the first moment they spotted that unfortunate soul.

After picking him up from school (I remembered this time), I inquired about his day and gently lead up to the big question, "Did you get pinched any?" Duh! Of course he did! He said he lost count because he "got pinched a lot in the morning and a lot in the afternoon and all the time in between." Yikes...that bad? So, trying to lighten the mood, I jokingly said, "You should've told them you had green underwear on." Gasp! He very quickly informed me that he didn't have green underwear on and that would be lying. So, I said, "Well, you could've just tricked them." Another gasp. "But, that would be lying and if I lie then I wouldn't be showing them that I have Jesus in my heart." Ouch! My very 'black and white with no shades of gray in between' child made his mommy very proud at that moment. He took this seriously because he takes his love for Jesus seriously. We have often talked about setting an example to others that reflects what having Jesus in our hearts looks like. Here I am encouraging him to go against that. No, I really didn't want him to "lie," I simply didn't want him to fall victim to the pinching fingers of 18 over zealous classmates. But, to him, there wasn't any other way.

I pondered this the rest of the afternoon and I've come to this conclusion: how many times do I compromise my faith just to avoid the imminent possibility of being vulnerable? Whether it's by a harmless little white lie, not following through on a promise, an outburst of anger, a snide remark or sharing in a bit of gossip, I am compromising what I know to be true and that's the living, breathing Word of God; the same Word that I have prayed over my children, meditated in my heart and established our home on. No, I am not perfect and I sin just like everyone else. But, if for one moment, a child, my child, can open my eyes to the error of my ways, then I am all the more wiser.

Yes, my dear child, you did not have green underwear on today. I wish I could take every one of those pinches for you. But, you did not complain and, in the end, taught your mommy a very valuable lesson and reflected what our ultimate goal should always be: showing others that we have Jesus in our hearts.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Taking Time to Stop and Look At Worms

Yesterday was quite the day. Eli has been sick what seems like all winter long. This week he's battled an upper respiratory infection. I'm not talking about a runny nose and pesky cough. I mean the child has been invaded with this infection. The drainage from his eyes was so bad that we had to wipe them constantly causing the skin under the eyes to bleed. He ran 104 temps for 3 days and slept 20 out of 22 hours on Monday. To say he's been a bit irritable is an understatement. So, you can imagine how my life has been put on hold yet again. I don't mind...I couldn't imagine doing anything else at these moments. So, Mother's Day Out rolls around on Thursday. He's already missed 6 days since he started in February so I really wanted him to go back. I figure that he's feeling better, not contagious and could use some interaction and mommy could use some time to get a few things done. I figured wrong!

Within an hour and a half, I got THE call. The one where the director is distressed, doesn't know what to do and is very sorry to call. It turns out Eli did NOT agree with my decision that MDO would be good for him. She said that he had basically been in time-out since he got there, it wasn't fair to him and now he has turned his aggression onto one of the teachers. So, here I am with a very unhappy, at the point of screaming, baby who was MORE than ready to eat and I have to make the 15 minute ride into pick up Eli. Mommy dilemma, huh? After my failed attempt to get a friend to watch and feed Micah, I looked back on the blessed sight of seeing her asleep in the carseat. So, I figure (correctly this time), I think I can do this.

Driving to the church, I felt oddly calm. I was somewhat surprised myself because I've been to the point of tears many times lately from this same situation. And, those who know me best will tell you that I NEVER cry. It's not the first time he's acted up at MDO, but this was definitely his worst time. The two notes he brought home just last week read, "Time-out for: shoving, taking away binkies, pulling out hairbows, pushing, tackling, etc. (I had to laugh when I read "etc") and the second note read, "Did a little better with his time-outs today." No, he didn't have less time-outs, he just acted a little more compliant while in time-out. Those notes have the ability to unravel my whole day. I can be upbeat, enjoying the beautiful day and rolling right along to feeling utterly defeated, frustrated and just plain sad. I wonder why in the world he's being such a problem?? What am I doing wrong?? I have slowly been giving it over to God in prayer. Lately, when I drive up to get him I say, "Lord, good, bad or indifferent, I am not going to let this get me down and I'm going to serve you today."

So, back to the call. I figured this would be my breaking point. But, I calmly walked in and talked with the teacher, who gave me a complete run-down of his bad behaviors. We said our good-byes and walked hand in hand outside. My emotions were bubbling to the surface and I was about to pick him up to put him in his carseat. Then, we both stopped. He started pointing to the ground laughing. I crouched down and saw what was captivating his attention. Worms. The rainy morning had brought dozens of worms out of hiding. As we stared at the worms (I was staring more at his innocent fascination), peace overcame me. "This is what it is all about," I thought. It's not about me, how I feel, what I am or aren't doing right. Take the focus off of myself and see it through his eyes. Where I would've stepped on the worms, jerked his seatbelt on him, got into the driver's seat thinking, "Woe is me!", in that moment, this tiny child put everything into crystal clear perspective for me. I shifted my focus from what he was doing wrong to what I can do to show him love. It was as plain and simple as watching a worm creep along the ground.

I won't go into the rest of my day. It got much more chaotic from that point on. We found out that night he has a significant bacterial infection in his eyes. He was quite the spectacle at the doctor's office. You never want your child to be the one that the other doctor's not attending to him want to come and look at. Obviously, this infection causes tremendous discomfort and irritability. Instead of focusing on how the bad day was, instead, I found myself hour-by-hour seeing God's provision to get me through it. He sent helpers to me that normally wouldn't have been there and I was overwhelmed just how much He cares. I pray that you will see God in the details today and that you'll stop and look at worms or anything else that makes you remember the more important things that make us step away from ourselves.

Big brother fell asleep holding a VERY sick baby brother: