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Archive for the ‘Spiritual Growth’ Category

It’s been about 2 1/2 years since we left Ohio for Arkansas. I really wish I would have kept up with my blogging during that period, but maybe it’s best that I didn’t. While I loved living in Arkansas and so many good things came out of it, I have to admit that the period we were there was one of the hardest times in my life.

There were so many changes that occurred during that time, as well as painful lessons, trials, loss, and revelation. Scott’s sister and her children moved in with us briefly as she and her husband attempted to save their marriage. First, it was just her teen son as she arranged for him to fly in and get settled first as she finished up last minute arrangements back home. That was an adjustment period itself and I regret that my kids struggled with some of the influence he had on all of us, as well as the leniency we showed him because we were trying to make the changes he was going through a bit easier to adjust to. I think our kids felt that we were making too many exceptions for him while holding them to a different standard, and I think they were right. We later learned that they had been exposed to some things they shouldn’t have been exposed to when we weren’t around. It wasn’t until he was gone they felt okay to talk to us about some of their experiences. It really got to me to think that my own children didn’t feel that they could talk to me about their concerns.

Finally, my sister-in-law made it in, and her husband promised to help get the family business settled back home and then he and the other three kids would join her and her oldest son. At that time, we were going to a smaller church we’d found and were just beginning to get involved in, but when my sister-in-law expressed that she was not happy there, we agreed to try to find a church that we could all agree on and go to together. And then we ended up not really going to church at all.

Later, when it was clear that my sister-in-law’s husband wasn’t really devoted to making the changes he needed to make in order to save their relationship, and when it was obvious he wasn’t going to move down to Arkansas as promised, a divorce followed and we all said goodbye to our hopes that they would make it, to each other as his sister and kids moved back, and to the hopes that our family could all finally live in the same town and settle down.

Scott and I really struggled during all this as we went through some major trials ourselves that tested our relationship and shook us both up a bit. Scott ended up taking on two separate roles with the company he works for – that is two full-time careers – and ended up in a near zombie-like state. That was miserable for both of us because even when he was physically present, he really wasn’t even there during a time when our entire family needed him as we went through other issues and hardships. When he asked his boss for help, he was promised resolution and assistance but nothing ever happened. Months followed and nothing changed. He and I both tried to deal with this and other issues on our own and in our own way, and that only made things worse. I think we both ended up hurting each other and ourselves in the process.

On top of that, I was already vulnerable due to other things going on, and ended up dealing with major self-worth and body image issues. I was fed a few lies about myself, and because I tend to believe the lies a lot easier than I do the truth, I lost myself. I was miserable inside, and couldn’t help but think that he was comparing me to every other woman out there. I suddenly only noticed every physical feature other women had that I didn’t and felt that there was no way my husband could be happy with me – with all my flaws. My scarred, stretched belly, and broken down body was ugly after having his children. How could he NOT want other women after looking at me? What was I? I was a stay-at-home mom…a housewife. What could I possibly have to offer him that was so great? Suddenly, I found myself striving too hard for my husband’s approval, affection, and interest. I noticed I was spending more time on my make-up, hair, etc.

Next, I contemplated plastic surgery. I even called and made an appointment to see a plastic surgeon for a consult – twice. But deep down inside I knew I would hate myself for trying to cover up the damage with a superficial bandaid of sorts. So I cancelled the appointments both times knowing it wasn’t the answer for me. I knew my problem wasn’t going to be fixed with surgery. I’d still look in the mirror and be the same insecure and lost woman trying to grasp hold of whatever it was I needed in order to feel whole and valued. I didn’t need to fix my body, I need to fix my head and needed healing in my heart and broken spirit.

So instead, I ended up going to counseling.

During this time, Patrick went to counseling too. We discovered he too, was struggling with his own issues. As we took a step back and really looked at the situation, we realized that our whole family was falling apart in a sense, and we couldn’t keep it together on our own. We realized we were relying too much on our own strength to make it through the hard times, and we really weren’t strong enough to make it on our own. We realized we’d kind of put God up on the back shelf and stopped seeking and relying on Him to guide us through the darkness.

The darkness – it was so, SO dark. Even as I read this, I can feel the darkness, the desperation, the helplessness, the sadness, the emptiness – all of it, attempting to creep back in.  I never ever want to go back to that dark place again.

But somehow, by His patience and grace, we made it through as truth was revealed and healing set in.  We learned a lot. Our dependence on God has grown as we realized how easily we slipped into a state of self-reliance. We now realize how He truly is the only one holding our family together.  It is not us!

We are weak without Him, and we will never make it if we try to do this on our own. It’s humbling and inspiring at the same time, because through all of the darkness, we’ve had a taste of His goodness.  He didn’t let us down, even when we were letting Him and each other down.

So here we are now, just as life was finally starting to get back to “normal.”  Just as I was finding myself again.  Just as I was truly establishing relationships and just as we were enjoying life even through the craziness…we suddenly are called to move back to Ohio.

And as I type all this out and reflect on the last couple of years, I am thankful that God had the patience and grace to work even in the darkness to reveal His truth to us.

It’s funny too, because it seems that God wants to make sure I don’t forget.  He seems to be speaking to me through my 3-year-old a lot lately.  Just last night she asked me a very serious question as she was coloring in her book, “Mom? Do you need Jesus?”

“Yes, America! I DO need Jesus!”

“Yes you do!” she replied enthusiastically.

The truth is, we all do.

YOU DO.

He is not just a free ticket to Heaven, He is so much more.  He is a loving God who wants us to be free from the things that hold us captive in our lives.  We do not have to be slaves to our sin, our past, our pain, nor weaknesses.  Where we are weak, HE is STRONG.  If we are willing to give ourselves to Him and totally rely on Him and walk in obedience, He will rescue us!  But we have to be willing to rely on Him to meet all of our needs.

He truly is a good and loving God, and I need Him!

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Wow…it’s been over a year.  I suppose I have some catching up to do! 

First things first…life has been crazy.  The adoption process has been put on hold, and Scott and I have both been stretched beyond what we can handle on our own.  I know, I know…many Christians out there say that God won’t give us more than we can handle, but I disagree…and this post here explains my thinking on this topic.  But I won’t get into this one right now…

I’ll just focus on summing up the last year:

1.  Started the adoption process.  We completed the classes, turned in all the paperwork, completed our home study, and waited for the phone call from the adoption specialist.  Instead, after finally calling the office myself and being told our file was in order (after they found it…yes, it was lost, then found), we get a letter in the mail stating that we were still missing information and needed to send it in.  Frustration settled in, I lost motivation, and didn’t even bother trying after that point, which turned out to be okay because…

2.  Scott’s sister and oldest son ended up moving in with us.  It only lasted a couple of months, and it was a very hard, trying, learning experience for us, but God has taught me so much through everything that happened and I am thankful that God knows me better than I know myself.  He knows what’s best for our entire family and I trust and am thankful that He is in control of all things…even when things don’t make sense!

3.  Scott has been working two roles (equivalent to TWO JOBS) for his company the last several months and it has been very, VERY trying and hard.  IF we’d had a child placed in our  home during all this other stuff we’ve been dealing with, we would have certainly failed.  However, God has continued to stretch, grow, and teach us through all of this…and I feel that Scott and I are closer than we’ve ever been.  He is still working both roles, but I’m confident that the company is going to finally start transitioning him off one role so we can stop living in survival mode and get back to living our lives with direction and purpose!

So…where does that leave us?  That leaves us back where we started over a year ago.   Several days ago, Scott felt that God told him that we are still supposed to adopt.  I felt the same thing, but didn’t really say anything to him until he mentioned it one night.  For me, it was just confirmation.  I don’t think it’s going to happen overnight…it may be another year before we have a child placed with us.  And I know my husband is still dealing with too much with work to pursue this, but I am going to take the first steps towards getting the ball rolling again because I know that even if I do my part, it’s still going to be a very long process! 

So I’ve found my motivation and am going to turn in the rest of that paperwork.  The state may make us start completely over at this point…and we may even decide adopting through the state isn’t the way we want to go…but for now, it’s where we are at.  Dwight is heading off to his first year of college next fall…and I don’t think we will have a child placed in our home before then.  But God’s timing is perfect and I am learning to just be patient and let God’s plan catch up with me and when I think things should happen.  So I am just going to be obedient, do what I can do, and let God do the rest.  If it all happens in three months…then okay.  If it takes 10 years, I’m okay with that too.

Trying to force things into my timing never works anyway!

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I’ve been struggling the last few weeks.  I guess the reality of the move has settled in finally!  I do this.  I go through the emotions of saying goodbye to friends I had and having to start over again.  I feel lonely, I whine and complain, and cry.  I struggle to keep a good attitude, even though I am blessed beyond comprehension.

So the last week or so it has hit hard.  I told my husband that I feel drained dry.  I feel like I have to put so much effort and energy into developing relationships and then once I finally start to get them established, I have to say goodbye.  I often feel like I am the one who has to reach out over and over again, and I’m just tired of it.  “For once,” I told him, “I just want someone to reach out to me.”

And I think part of that feeling has hit me so hard because my husband has so many connections and he does have people reaching out to him.  I have another friend who moved here recently and I’m seeing her thriving and going out with the girls…and when you are in a situation like mine, you can’t help but wonder so many things, like why the invites aren’t coming your way.

So I finally just let it out during some prayer time this last week.  I let God know how I feel – lonely, rejected, sad, tired, weak, neglected.  I whined about the sacrifices I’ve made.  I complained about following my husband around with every move and not feeling like I’m getting much out of it.  “I give and give and give,” I whined.  “And I get nothing in return!”  (Not exactly true, I know!)

And I’m certain God was listening patiently.  He let me have my rant.  And then when I was done, this stupid, stupid, STUUUUUUUUUPID song started playing in my head:

Come on, get your, get your head in the game
We gotta get our, get our, get our, get our head in the game
You gotta get your, get your head in the game
We gotta get our, get our, get our, get our head in the game

Stupid High School Musical. I’ve watched that movie once…ONE TIME. How in the world is it that this song started up in my head?

Then I felt God speak to my heart.  He told me that I need to remember what this is all about. While I am looking at all these moves as supporting my husband, following him around so he can get promoted, etc., I’ve forgotten that God’s hand is entirely in every single move and promotion and relationship I develop.  I’m not following my husband around, I’m going where God has told us to go, each and every time.  Every time He opens the door for us to move, He has a purpose to it, and His purpose has an eternal result in mind.

The sacrifices I’m making should not be for my husband, children, or even myself, but for God.  The promotions and blessings we receive through all these moves and actions we take are blessings from God, not the reason why we move.  Where much is given, much is required.  And the truth is, God has called me to live a life that I would never have picked for myself.  I lived the first 20 years of my life in one small military town.  I always assumed I’d grow up, get married, and live in one place forever.   My personality is not one geared for this kind of lifestyle, but how often does God call those who are prepared and strong to walk in the things He calls us to walk in?  He often chooses the weak, the inadequate, sometimes even the unwilling to go and do His work, so that His glory can be shown through it.

The things I miss, the loneliness I feel, is temporary.  I have an eternity of fellowship waiting for me at the end of this road.

So, once again convicted and thankful for God’s love and patience, I’m back in the game.  It’s not to say I still won’t hurt or be sad as I face the loneliness – I am after all, human!  But God is in control and if I rely on Him and wait patiently, I know He will bring the kind of friends my heart desires.  Women who will reach out to me in return.  Those I can rely on in a time of need.

In fact, it’s already starting to happen.  It was kind of funny.  Just after having that conversation with my husband, and God, I texted a newly met friend to let her know I wasn’t going to make the women’s Bible study we both joined because Madison was sick.  She texted me back, “I’m sorry to hear that.  Missed ya, do you need anything that I could pick up for you?”

I was touched.  Her thoughtfulness and willingness to do that for me meant more than she will know.  And I’m sure God was smiling on me as I read her message.  Sometimes I forget He really hears my prayers, and then I’m amazed at how quickly He responds, especially when I get my head in the game!

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When Joshua was just a baby, I started going through a very trying time in regards to my faith.  I questioned whether God was real and as a result of that question, I fumbled through a hundred more questions that I could not answer.  The funny thing is, I never stopped to question whether or not Satan was real.  I’d survived some serious hardships as a child and teen, and I saw and experienced terrible things on a spiritual level.  Even though God brought me through all of that, I still had to stop and ask, “What if?”  What if all the things that have happened in my life happened by mere coincidence? 

I think a lot of it started after I had Joshua.  I was struggling with post-partum depression (even though I didn’t realize it at the time).  9/11 happened and that just sent me spiraling downward.  I remember looking at my 2 month old baby and wondered why I even brought him into this evil world. 

Joshua was a healthy baby, but as time progressed he started getting ear infections.  The doctor would prescribe him antibiotics and a couple months later I’d be back in the office.  By the time he was around 18 months old, the doctors decided he probably needed ear tubes. 

The thought of my baby having to go through any sort of surgery terrified me.  At that point, I’d decided God had to be real, but I still felt alone.  I remember praying and begging for God to heal my baby so he wouldn’t have to go through the surgery.  I claimed his healing and spoke in faith.  I believed that God was going to heal my baby. 

But when we took Joshua in for one final appointment to check on his ears, I was told that he wasn’t improving and they scheduled him in for surgery.  What was worse was my husband wasn’t even going to be able to be there when it happened.  I had to do this all by myself.  I remember talking to a Christian mentor, a woman I worked very closely with at our church in several ministries.  I cried and told her that I didn’t understand why God wouldn’t heal my son.  I had faith.  I believed.  I did everything I was supposed to do and yet here he was being scheduled for surgery.  I felt rejected and ignored.  It made me wonder again, if God was real.  If God was real, why wouldn’t he just heal my son?

I knew my son didn’t have a life-threatening illness, but to me, I felt like God should have healed him anyway.  I prayed, had faith, and claimed his healing.  Why didn’t it work?  Either God was ignoring me, or He wasn’t real.  That was my conclusion. 

So I took my son in and teared up as we got him on the operating table.  This precious little boy waved bye-bye as the doctors wheeled him away into the operating room.  I was thankful he went so willingly.  I walked the long way back to the waiting room and sat down.  Dwight was sitting next to me playing cheerfully on his game boy.  I looked at my book and ignored it.  Instead I closed my eyes and prayed for my son to be okay. 

It wasn’t 5 minutes later and the doctor walked into the room.  “We’re done.”  He said, and brought me into the recovery room where I gave my drowsy son apple juice and marveled at how fast the surgery really was.  The nurse kept an eye on him for about 45 minutes and then he was released.  Joshua didn’t suffer another ear infection again until he was 7 years old!  (He was prescribed antibiotics and has been fine since). 

Going through that whole ordeal, I realize now just how depressed I was.  It never occurred to me that I was suffering from post-partum depression until I was pregnant with Madison.  But even after I was finally able to pull myself out of my dramatic little pit of despair, I’ve still wondered why God didn’t just answer my prayers.  Why didn’t He heal Joshua so that he I didn’t have to go through the stress of that surgery?

Over the years, I have grown stronger in my faith, but I’ve still wondered why things happened the way they did.  I mean, I believed.  I had faith the size of a mustard seed.  That was all that was required of me, right?  

It hit me the other day when a friend asked for advice on how to help her little girl recover from an ear infection.  Suddenly I thought about all the families out there who couldn’t afford to take their kids to the doctor or who didn’t have health insurance to get their children the surgeries they needed.  Then that still, small voice whispered to my heart.  “You didn’t need the miracle, Melissa.  She did.”  

It still makes me want to cry when I think about it.  In the midst of my prayers, desperate pleading, demanding, and instruction on how I wanted things handled, My God provided for all my needs.  He always has.  And even when I thought He was ignoring my prayers, (rejecting me is how I truly saw it!),  He provided in a way different than I expected or even wanted.  I was too busy wallowing in doubt and depression that I didn’t even see it.  It’s amazing that it has taken so long for me to see the truth.  But isn’t it funny that I saw the truth once I took my eyes off myself?  No, there was no miraculous and instant healing, but He did provide for me and my son.   

And I have been truly humbled over the last week as God finally revealed a glimpse of himself to me.  Being the control freak that I am, it scares me to death to say this, but I suppose I should take a step back and let God be God.  He does a way better job of taking care of things than I ever could!

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Life has been rough the last year.  Real rough.  I’m not even going to pretend it has been easy!  Life with Dwight has been SO HARD.   He has really been struggling and there are days I think that he’s pushed me past my limits.  Maybe that’s why I finally got him enrolled in some counseling!

I’ve heard the expression that “God will not allow you to go through more than you can handle.”  But I have to respectfully disagree.  If God didn’t allow us to go through more than we could handle, why would we need Him?  I have been going through more than I could handle without Him…but because of Him, I am making it through, and I’m growing, and I am learning about new areas I need to completely rely on and trust and seek after Him.  I am at a point in my life where I can no longer be independent.  I NEED GOD.

And even though it is hard, it is such a liberating feeling to understand this and accept it!  I need Him!  Maybe it’s because I know that He will not let me down.  At the same time, it’s so humbling. 

I have just really been going through something the last couple of days that has humbled me.  Knowing how much I need God, knowing that we are going through some hard times right now, yet at the same time, God has continued to pour His blessings on me.  I’m honestly overwhelmed.  Here I have this teenage son who has so many issues and requires so much more than even the average teen, and it is so draining.  Most days I feel like I am giving, and giving, and giving!  I told my mom that he takes up about 85% of my energy and 50% of my free time.  Probably a slight exaggeration!  But the truth is, without him, life would just feel a bit empty. 

And then I look at each of my children.  They all require something of me, but they also bring something special to this family.  They are all different, but they all test me and suck me dry nearly every single day.  But I am so blessed.  Never in a million years would I have imagined I’d be living the life I have now.  I get to be the mom of Dwight, Patrick, Joshua, Kelly, Madison, and America!  Not only that, but I never thought I could have a husband who really gets it – who still treats me like a queen and tells me the things I need to hear on a daily basis.  After 11 years, he still makes me feel special – unique, like I’m THE ONE AND ONLY. 

Yes, things are hard.  There are moments I lose it and I want to pull my hair out, but WOW.  I am just so blessed to be the one who gets to live this life, to be the mother of these awesome kids and the wife to this amazing man.

I may be giving a lot lately, but God is giving so much more.  I am so thankful!

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UGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH!

That’s the sound that has been uttered a LOT in my house this week.  Mostly by my now 2-year-old daughter, but she had to pick it up from someone, right?  This week our house has been filled with snotty noses, messy sneezes, and sleepless nights due to non-stop coughing and sore throats.  It hit Madison and Kelly first.  They got a fever Monday morning.  Then Joshua got it, only no fever.  And as of yesterday, Scott, America, and I are feeling sick.  Just in time for the weekend!

Add in all the soccer games & practices, doctor’s appointments, Cub Scout meetings, school, chores, work, homework, and craziness that never seems to end, and yes, there’s a lot of “uuuugggggghhhhhhhhs!”  being uttered in the house! 

So I couldn’t help but think that it isn’t even officially Fall yet and we are already getting sick.  “Pleeeeeease God, not another winter like the last!”  I moaned inwardly.  I just don’t know if I can take it.  I keep hoping this winter will be different, but I have four kids in school, and they just don’t care or think about germs and prevention like their Mama does! 

It seems that I’m living a period in my life where God is weeding out the selfishness in me.  I can’t help but feel this week that even with the sickness, God is dealing with me – using the tiredness/weakness as a tool to deal with me – on some of the issues I would like to ignore.  It’s so hard to be nice when you aren’t feeling well!  But as the kids do little thinks that just irk me to no end, I hear this gentle, still voice in my head saying, “Just let it go…” 

Like yesterday when Dwight left a note by the dishwasher.  “Sorry – Early Bus.”  I have to admit, I was slightly annoyed, and yet a bit amused.  It’s his chore in the morning to unload the dishwasher.  I figure since he’s the first one up, if he unloads it, I can easily keep the kitchen clean by loading the dirty breakfast and lunch dishes in the washer.  But this morning, he somehow managed to find time to find a notepad, and scribble an explanation on why he was unable to do this chore, and still get on the bus  all the way down to the end of our street before it left!  Yeah, I didn’t know he could move that fast and still get down to the end of the street before his bus left!

So when he got home today, I wanted to interrogate him, to tell him how ridiculous it was for him to find the time to find a notepad, pencil, scribble a note, and place it on the counter, while the bus “waited.”  If it was so early, surely he should have been sprinting to the end of the street, in the dark, before the bus gave up and left.  But he explained his version of the story, and I heard that voice say, “Let it go…” 

So I simply said, “Okay.”  and let it go.  I wanted to explain to Dwight that his bus was not going to come that early, or tell him that he should have figured out it was the same “early bus” that came the day before…the one that turned out not to be his when he rushed out that day too.  That he should be able to figure these things out at 15…and maybe he should focus on just getting ready instead of watching for buses! 

And I’m starting to see that the time and energy I’m spending on nagging and interrogating and requiring my children to meet up to my standards is just draining me, and so not worth it!  (My husband has been telling me this for years, by the way, but I have a streak of stubbornness in me!)

So I’m learning to choose my battles, like with Patrick, who takes FOREVER to get ready for ANYTHING and everything!  Last year we battled with him on getting ready for school, and bed on time.  He actually spent 2 1/2 hours getting ready for school last year!  He’d do it in the evenings too!  I finally made him set a timer and required him to be ready within an hour, which worked for a while.  But the beginning of this year, he never met the deadline, even though I’d removed some morning chores from his checklist.  What can I say?  He’s stubborn.  But this week, I finally gave in.  “Patrick, you don’t have to set the timer anymore, just don’t miss your bus.  I really do wish you’d get ready in time for me to pray with you before you leave though.”

Oh, and of course, I did use my husband’s great idea and rearranged his morning to-do list.  I told him he has to do it in the order I put it in.  You know I put eating and changing clothes, brushing teeth and hair down last!  He’s too vain to go to school all stinky and disheveled looking! 

So he hasn’t missed his bus this week, but he has spent every morning leaving about 3 minutes later than he should, and has to run to the end of the street.  It’s kind of funny watching him walk out the door, laid back and cool like he is, and then as he looks up and sees all the kids waiting at the end of the street, he realizes the bus could show up at any minute, and so he makes an awkward run for it, backpack on his back, head down, short legs trying to keep up with his upper body.  Ahhhh, sometimes the natural consequences are far better than any sort of consequence I could come up with.  I’m getting entertainment out of this!  I can sit here and watch the same scene every morning!  And when that morning comes when the sidewalks are covered in snow or ice…yeah, you know I’ll be watching!

All this weeding and inward cleaning really isn’t fun.  I’m having to get my flesh in check, and I hate to admit I still fail way more than I succeed at it!  But I’m learning that it doesn’t have to all be painful.  Sometimes, especially as a parent, sitting back and letting God do His work can open up windows of opportunity to see things in a different light.  I’m learning to smile in the middle of those frustrating moments.  I think if I can learn to do this more often, I might just enjoy this stage in my life a little bit more!

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I don’t.  I joke about it, but really, I believe God is in control and He allows things to happen in our daily lives for a reason.  I believe we reap what we sow.  I guess my way of thinking is, Karma follows the rules of God without including God, and that’s why I don’t necessarily say I believe in it.  I think it is important to acknowledge God in it all.  But if I did believe in Karma, then I’d think that surely Karma is out to get me.  Things have just been somewhat ironic the last two days.  If Faith thinks someone is out to get her, then maybe she needs to look into Karma herself! Just kidding, Just kidding!

Yesterday I got a phone call from the school nurse at Joshua’s school.  He was complaining of a stomach ache.  Since Patrick stayed home the day before with similar symptoms, I decided it was probably best if I picked him up…even though school was about to be released in 30 minutes.  Maybe it was the suggestion that he may throw up.  No, I just couldn’t make him ride the bus if he felt that sick.

So I had Kelly run upstairs to get dressed (we’ve been sick and I figured yesterday would be a good PJ day).  I loaded the kids up in the car, and made the 10 minute drive to the school.  Of course, as I pull up, it starts raining.  Great.  At least it wasn’t cold. 

I pulled out the umbrella and struggled to grab my purse (Just in case they need to see an ID), Kelly, and Madison from the car.  I didn’t want the door of the Expedition to hit the car next to me so trying to balance the car door with my hip was fun too.  Maybe I should have used my bulging belly.   We made our way to the front door and I sat my umbrella down outside.  The school office was packed full of parents who regularly pick up their children.  Apparently, I made it in just as the students were being released from class. 

I waited for about 5 minutes and finally the nurse released Joshua to me.  We go outside, I open his umbrella and then mine.  By this time, the rain was coming down even harder.  I see Joshua’s bus sitting in the front of the line, waiting for the students to board.  I wondered if it was completely pointless for me to come all the way over here to pick him up.  I had Kelly and Joshua wait on the sidewalk while I loaded up Madison.  Despite my attempts to cover her with the umbrella, she was still getting wet.  “I’m sorry, Baby.”  I apologized.  She responded with, “It’s raining, it’s pouring.”  and then squealed as she reached out her hand to catch some rain.  You know what?  I had to join her.  I sang along and reached out my hand too.  This was just a moment of pure delight, and I was not going to miss out!

After buckling up singing Madison, I wanted to make sure and hold the heavy door still when the other two got in because the parking spaces were tight.  I first walked Kelly to the car, then I returned to get Joshua.  I now had 2 umbrellas in my hand.

“Okay, kids, get buckled up.  Joshua, please try to help Kelly get her seat belt on.”  As he was struggling to do this, I was busy trying to figure out how to close one umbrella without dropping another – or hitting it against a car.  I really didn’t want to get wet!

I finally managed to get them both closed and then hopped into the car.  I was soaked.

“Moooooooooooooooooom.  I can’t get Kelly’s seat belt on!”  Joshua whined.  Ugh!  Since I didn’t want to get even more wet, I climbed over the front seat, past the middle row and to the back where Kelly’s seat was.  I buckled her in and then climbed back to the front.  Keep in mind that I am pregnant.  I now have a belly to keep me wobbly, and I looked anything but graceful.  As I buckled myself in, I saw Joshua’s bus take off.  Wow.  In the time it took me to load up three kids, they were able to board an entire bus full of kids and leave. 

“I don’t have my seatbelt on yet!”   Joshua shouted. 

“Joshua, hurry up!” I muttered. I just wanted to get home!  No.  I wanted to beat that bus.  Even if it was by a few seconds, I wanted to be able to say I saved my son from an agonizing trip home.  I wanted my trip to be worth something!

I pulled out of the parking lot and managed to beat the last bus out of there.  We drove our way home and about a mile from our street, I see a school bus pull out of a nearby neighborhood and back onto the main road we were on.  I knew it was Joshua’s bus, and now, the bus was right in front of me.  It stopped in front of the neighborhood, and I waited as it flashed it’s red lights and let Joshua’s little friend off, right where I should have picked him up in the first place. 

Oh, and if you are wondering, Joshua was fine.  I think he just didn’t want to ride the bus home.  He never even had to make a trip to the bathroom.

Later that afternoon, I left to pick up Dwight from Track.  I sat in the parking lot and 2 minutes later, Kelly exclaimed, “He’s taking SOOOOOOOOO long!” 

“Excuse me?” I asked.  “Don’t you complain!  We haven’t even been here for 5 minutes!  You need to be patient!”  

40 minutes later.  Yes.  That’s right.  40 minutes later as we sat in the parking lot watching the rain come and go, he finally appeared.  Ha!  That’ll teach her me about patience!  When I asked him why he was so late, he informed me that they changed the practice times.  Apparently, he didn’t think it was necessary to inform me of this.  Apparently, he thought it wasn’t a big deal, that he couldn’t have prevented me from sitting in the parking lot with three kids recovering from colds, with a simple phone call!  He tried to tell me it was out of his control.  But he couldn’t tell me why ALL OF THE OTHER PARENTS happened to show up right on time to pick up their kids.  Why did they know about the time change?  Oh.  I guess those kids were able to get the word to their moms and dads.  And yes, Dwight has heard of the invention called the telephone.  I asked him about it yesterday.  He just didn’t think to use it!  I am the mom with the 14 year old kid who can’t seem to keep me informed about anything! 

So if Karma were out to get me…I would have thought that trying to beat a school bus home and getting onto my daughter for being impatient was enough.  But today I decided to try to bless my neighbor.  I called her up and asked her if she wanted me to pick up the little girl who rides the bus with Joshua and bring her home.  “Oh, that would be great!”  She said.  I figured since she had a little one at home, and since it was sprinkling, I’d save her a very wet trip.  Besides, I was already sitting there.  Of course, I get the girl to the front door and wouldn’t you know it, as soon as I pull up in my drive way, what does it do?  It POURS.  Come on God!  This is what I get for my act of kindness?!?   

I decided to sit in the car for a minute with the kids, but they became impatient, and the rain didn’t seem to want to let up.  I knew that it wasn’t going to slow down a bit, (at least until I was safe inside my warm home).  Soooooooo, I pulled out that giant umbrella of mine, and one by one, I got them out and escorted them to the front door. 

And now I’m sitting here.  My clothes are still damp, but at least I’m not getting rained on anymore.  And I had to laugh.  Getting beat home by the school bus, the 40 minute wait after a scolding on impatience, the drenching rain after an act of kindness.  No, it’s not Karma.  It’s a God who is wise enough to know that I needed some practice finding the little blessings in the gloom and rain.  The laughter at the irony of each event and the joy of hearing my daughter squeal and sing as she was getting wet…I guess you could say I’m learning from little Madison.  Like my 1 year old daughter, I need to find the joy hidden in each God given day I have.  And today, I’m reaching out my hand as I try to catch the sprinkles of His greatness.  I may get a little wet in the process, but if I hold my hand out long enough, I’m bound to hold a drop or two in the palm of my reaching hand

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