Because Jesus

Tonight I was thinking. If I can’t sleep, which I couldn’t, and I’m too tired to read, which I was, and it’s too late to watch TV, which it is, sometimes I play Merged or Sudoku on my phone. I recently downloaded a Sudoku app and learned the concept. Only 8 years behind every other American, according to Todd.

“Now you could sit down in a room full of Kindergartners and have a lot to talk about,” he said to me last week. Isn’t he clever? He said this. I didn’t make the quote up so you’d feel sorry for me. I have graduated from Easy to Medium on my app. I was rocking the Easy level. I absolutely bomb at Medium. And I still cannot say Sudoku when prompted. I flip flop between SoDUko and SuDOku.  Sheesh. Perhaps this is why I can’t master Medium.

At any rate, I was too tired for any of that tonight, but evidently not tired enough for sleep. So I just sat for awhile with my thoughts. I thought about the fact that out of 3 school supply lists and 52 items that have to be purchased before Wednesday of next week, I have ordered 4. From Amazon.  I just couldn’t bring myself to buy anything else on Amazon when I knew Walmart was selling the same thing for a nickel. At least one child needs new uniforms. There are 4 open houses and one kid entering high school and many, many teachers to meet. I thought about the cards that arrived in the mail with the names of the girls’ teachers. In the past, I’ve gotten myself all tied up in knots about these cards and what they represent. I’ve worried over the teacher choices…even attempted to request who they should have or should NOT have some years.

Tonight I realized how small it all is. How insignificant. And worrying myself sick over something like school supplies or teacher choices is a luxury that means life is pretty easy otherwise. Because if the big things are in place and fine, then you have time to nitpick the little things.

This year I didn’t worry about the teachers and I haven’t purchased the supplies. This year I have other things on my mind. Questions. Ponderings. Lists in my head that are weightier than a 3 pack of post-it notes. I run the questions through my head but there are no answers trailing after. And I replay the things I’m pondering but today looks the same as yesterday.

And still the school supplies.

I mean.

But tonight, ensconced in the melodrama, two words came to my very slow, very quiet brain.

Because Jesus.

The little stuff doesn’t matter. Because Jesus. It’s all okay. Because Jesus. The what if, the why, the when, the open-ended unwrittens.

He overcame the world. I can do all things–ALL THINGS–through Him. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Because he overcame the world, even the big stuff doesn’t have to pin me or paralyze me. Can I? Do I? Will I? Is there?

The answer to all of it is the same.

Because Jesus.

Now I just have to go DO something about that.

 

 

 

Musings

Today was LONG. And tiring. And a little bit funny at times. I’m going to just ramble for a few minutes as if it hasn’t been months since I last posted. Go with me. Or don’t. No biggie.

I was up a lot last night with the child that has always had ear problems. At nine months, she had tubes put in and adenoids taken out. After they brought her out from those procedures, I thought for a second that she’d been switched with another, much uglier, baby. Minor surgery plus a LOT of screaming can make a baby look pretty smashed-pumpkin. In case you didn’t know.

Anyway, I’m ALREADY off topic. Her ears are not as bad as they once were, but she still tends to go that direction when congested. So she was up crying a lot last night and in and out of her bed, my bed, and no bed. We told stories about some crazy kid in the first grade and laughed at things that had happened recently. And then, shot from no sleep, we headed to the doctor this morning. We ended up at the Walgreens clinic because her pediatrician was slammed today. This is always a risk. Showing up to wait at Walgreens without an appointment is like I imagine it would be to spend 5 minutes playing slots in Vegas. Lose-lose.

We got there at 9. As we were signing in on the touch screen, which took 8 times longer because she wanted to sign herself in, the message popped up, “There are FIVE people ahead of you in the queue.” FIVE? That’s like a whole platoon! That’s a day’s worth of patients, man. I knew I was in for it. But my choices were this and this, so I sat down in a sea of other queued patients and waited. For 90 minutes. When we finally got called back, we were introduced to Dan, the very perky nurse practitioner with an odd nose and palate. Just odd. Ask my daughter about it sometime. She’ll tell you. He reminded me of a local dentist who calls your teeth “little rascals.” He was very perky, very talkative, and much, MUCH too enthusiastic to be treating an ear infection.

After a few minutes of paperwork and sech, he asked me what meds I had already given her.

“Just ibuprofen,” I answered.

“HEY!” he replied, much too exhuberantly. “Good call, Mom!” Then he looked at my girl. “Your mom did GOOD. She’s super! That was EXACTLY the right call. Gets that inflammation right down.” Insert hand motions for helping inflammation. At this point in my typing, I am laughing. You probably did have to be there to appreciate this, but this guy was SO OVER THE TOP on the ibuprofen thing. There was no rocket science behind my choice last night. Either I gave her the ibuprofen for the pain or I stayed up ALL NIGHT telling stories about weird kids in first grade. And at 2 a.m., man, I’m tired. I’m not above some marker sniffing at that hour. Yes, I am. Really.

Anyway, that Dan guy was weird. And he praised me for the ibuprofen enough to fill a 5-paragraph essay. Enough so that my 8 year old thought it was disturbing. But he fixed us up with something better than grape markers, so I’m cool with it.

I sat a lot today. In waiting rooms. Pharmacies. Cars. In so doing, I checked Facebook maybe 50 times. (Not enough going on today. Help a girl out, why don’t you.) That’s when I saw the picture with 25 comments of the cutest little boy ever. One of the comments was simply, “Previous.” I love that. I love it when someone comments “Previous” and never realizes they did it. Even though I know what they meant and that their phone likely came up with it, I still read it as “Previous” in my head and go on my way, merrier than before. Reminds me of the time I asked my friend if they were going to the park rectally. Not directly, mind you. Which was what I meant. Good, good times.

Previous.
Read that however you like.
I’m going to bed now.

When God Steps In

There are times in my life where I have been asked to do something or been confronted with a situation or have stood at the crossroads of a large decision and I’ve wondered if God is nudging me one direction or another. And there have been times where something has happened and I wonder if that was time and chance or if it was God stepping in.

Sometimes I wonder.
Sometimes I don’t.

I don’t wonder if God sent me my eldest son. He absolutely did. There were years of infertility, adoption, and then crazy super fertility. I don’t question this. He had a plan for my family. I hug them everyday with thanksgiving. Even if I was older than dirt when I got started.

I don’t wonder if my dad’s alive today by accident. Last Thursday, God stepped in. You can argue if you want to, but it won’t do you any good.

I was putting my kids in bed last Thursday night. They were mostly settled and reading upstairs when my phone rang. It was my mom calling. I almost picked up the phone in a typically obnoxious way to tell her that I had a bone to pick with her over the 4 year old Girl Scout cookies my parents had tried to pawn off on me that very day. I know I shouldn’t have eaten one. Trust me. I paid for it with the 36 hour taste of motor oil in my mouth. If you’ve ever wondered about the shelf life of a Girl Scout cookie then you should call me. Don’t keep those bad boys too long.

Anyway, I didn’t pick up the phone and pick the bone with her that I’m picking right now. I just said “Hello?” At that point she told me that my dad had been in a serious car accident. The breath I sucked in that moment took too long to let out and it took too long for her to tell me he was okay. But he was indeed okay. And that’s the part of the story worth telling.

His words are better than mine. He was there. He was saved in a very mighty way that night.
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“Oh LORD, get me through this one……”
> This will be a different kind of story this week, but the story must be told. I was following a semi truck, driving my little Mazda Miata, heading North on I-75 at about 65 mph on Thursday night. The truck braked suddenly, so I moved to the left lane to avoid his problem. He lurched to the left, started to jack-knife and almost toppled right into me. With nowhere to go, I lost control, shot under him, under the semi trailer, coming out the other side, slid to the right, across the other lanes, down an embankment and came to a stop in a ditch. As I was approaching the semi, about to crash into him, I must have bent down…and I called out to the Lord for help. The impact smashed the windshield throwing glass everywhere; I later found glass in my shoes. As the car came to a stop, it was eerily quiet…and dark. I was alone, the truck didn’t stop and no one else could be seen. Then I looked ahead about 150 yards where a lone car had pulled over. I got out of my car, could walk, in fact, I didn’t have a scratch on me. I had just had a major wreck, drove under a semi, and didn’t even have a scratch. Now you are seeing why this story must be told. I called out to the Lord for HELP!…..and got it in a dramatic way.

I walked up to the stopped car where a woman and her 9-year-old daughter were standing, looking at me as though I were a ghost. She was on the phone with 911; I told her not to send an ambulance. When off the phone, she told me that she saw the whole thing, that the semi almost rolled, apparently trying to avoid something ahead. I told her that I must have ducked, and began praying as I crashed into the truck. She said, “God is so good!” What kind of lesson that must have been for that 9-year-old daughter. And what a lesson to me….

Deputies came, followed by a trooper and a fire truck. Everyone was amazed that I was alive. I was more amazed because I had just seen and felt the impact with the underside of the semi; a major crash. The car was towed; might be totalled. The trooper took me home and I was alive and
well.

Romans 8:28 says “All things work together for good for those that love God…”

Psalm 119:65 “You have dealt well with your servant, O Lord, according to Your word. Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe your commandments. Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word. You are good, and do good….”
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I reflected that night on so many things. I thought about how close we came to having a funeral at Thanksgiving. I thought about the fact that I would have been the last one to have seen my dad since he brought my son home from school that day. I thought about the fact that I would have forever felt guilty for asking him to drive my son home if he’d been killed while running errands AFTER helping me. Irrational though that may be, I still would have struggled with that.

How does a car get hit by a semi, go UNDER that semi and out the other side, land in a ditch, and get completely totaled without one bruise, one scratch getting on the person driving?

That’s God.
I am thankful.

For Granted

I have a whole bunch of posts I wrote on a private blog a long, long time before I started a public one. Some of them are better than others. All of them record life with my wee ones and I am so very thankful I wrote down as much as I did. Tonight, getting them all into bed was more like a wrestling smackdown than a scene from Little Women. It wasn’t a big deal, but I think maybe I should loosen up a little. It’s summertime now, for the love of wrinkles. As I got to thinking about the little darlings, I read back through some old stuff. I think on days when I don’t have original thoughts, I will post something from the archives. If you want to read it, great. If not, also great. Only YOU can control your eyeballs.

In light of the fact that tomorrow is Sunday,  the Lord’s Day, I’ll dredge up this one. I hope you are all kicking back somewhere and drinking in summer.

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I just laid my youngest blessing down in her bed and paused to watch her sleep as the rain fell steadily outside against her window. She resides now in what was once Mama’s Boy’s room. I still have very vivid memories of rocking him to the sound of a similar rain. As I stood there, it occurred to me again how much I have…how blessed I am. It also occurred to me that it is very easy to love God with all of this around me, in my arms, in my face. Daily. If one of these children were taken from me suddenly, if my health were taken, or a friend, or a parent, what then? How much harder it would be to accept God’s decisions if I perceived that they were against me…if they disrupted the peace that I give Him credit for giving me. I take these things “for granted,” a phrase I’ve been thinking about for at least a week now. What is for granted? It indicates there is something that SHOULD be granted me…something I am owed. Is there anything in my life that I really deserved or earned? Anything I was owed? We come to expect things that come with a territory. If I am in my 20s and looking, I should be married. If I am married and financially stable, I should be able to conceive children. If I am young, I should be healthy. If my family is young, they should all be alive. The list goes on. We expect these things. We struggle when life takes a turn against the expectation…against what should be granted. Or so we think.

I now believe that nothing is truly for granted. Nothing is a given. Everything is a miracle on loan and nothing should cause me to leave Him if it were suddenly removed from me. This has made me think, because as I stated, it is easy to love Him on top of the blessings He has given me. It is easy to love Him alongside what I have. The trick is to love Him more than all of that. The trick is to be closer to the Giver than I am to the gifts. He has to be my ultimate relationship, because the ones He has given me here for my own comfort and strength are just on loan. They are granted me for now, but are not to be taken for granted.

Taking stock

I have one somewhat self-deprecating story to share and one more serious thought. Unfortunately for you, the funny story will wait until tomorrow. It will take longer to type and I’m not in such a funny mood right now. Tonight I am mulling over the meaning of life, noticing the old-age, worked-in-the-yard-all-day ache in my knees, and feeling thoughtful.

I had an almost epiphany today. And almost aha moment. I say almost, because I think I tried to push it away and I’m not sure it has settled inside as deeply as it needs to. I don’t like to feel pain. I guess maybe none of us do, but I think I resist the truth when it becomes too difficult to manage. I think I saw it, and waffled too long between running toward it and running away from it.

I don’t like big, ugly things. (This is a metaphor, for all you math majors out there. I’m not calling you OR me fat and hideous.) Big, but not ugly is okay. Or small and REALLY ugly…also okay. But big and ugly? Not okay. The moment you look at yourself in a mirror and realize you have too much to change is a moment that you either decide to do the hard, HARD work or the moment you decide to walk away and live with big and ugly.

Today I decided it’s time to be a better person all around. It’s time for some discipline. Time for taking stock. Time to stop being tired over the fourth child being born, for crying out Lee-oud. Time to be who I’m supposed to be.  Time to be who my kids deserve. Time to be a better helper to the man of the house. Time to become someone who can live without large regrets.

It’s time.

More on that…and the “Rooster Incident”…tomorrow.

What forgiveness looks like

I need to preface this very quick post by saying that I only slept 2.5 hours tonight…from 12:30ish till 3. At 3, I woke up with my left eye fusing shut and my nose wouldn’t stop running. As I laid there in the dark at the end of a king sized bed where my daughters were also sleeping, with my nostril plugged by some kleenex and my eye freaking out, I thought to myself, “This must be what youth and beauty really feel like.” Actually, I did think that. But in a very sarcastic thinking tone.

I only say all of that so that if I misspell the word ‘tree’ or say something uncharacteristically stupid, you might forgive me.

Forgiveness is what this post is all about.

Late last night, a friend posted an article on her facebook wall about an incident I do not remember in the news. But I read the article and then I clicked a link within the article to a video slideshow. That moment felt like it changed my life just enough to matter. Certainly enough to share.

Most of us have been taught the fundamentals of forgiveness. We know we are supposed to offer it when needed. We know what it is supposed to look like. We know it is good for us and for others. In some cases, it is easy to offer…when what was taken from us or handed down to us in abuse is not so bad or so personal.

But what do we do when the very worst is done? When the very worst is stolen away? When what is taken cannot be given back…ever? What then? We rank the world’s grievances and wrongdoings. The little white lie barely registers. Stealing from an employer…maybe a little higher. Betrayal. Abuse.  Murder. It all has a ranking.

What happens when a dude gets stone drunk, gets in his car, and drives like a man possessed until he slams into the car carrying my daughter and her friend? What would I do then? How would I react? Would I hate him? Curse him? Teach my other family members to be bitter? Or could I have the strength to forgive him? To give back to a world that stole the most precious thing on earth from me?

I hope I could find that strength. Jesus taught me to–Jesus led the way–but the real world examples can be so very hard.

This woman absolutely amazes me. Read her story. Where the article references “screens this video,” click that link and watch the slideshow. If you have teens, even really good ones, show it to them.

I hope no one reading this will ever be faced with such trauma. But if you are, I hope you can find a lighted path in the world, like this amazing woman. It really is the way to healing.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/20/renee-napier_n_1440809.html

What matters

I think I’ve been under a false impression for quite some time. I think I allow myself to believe what I need to believe just to get by sometimes. We have to live with ourselves somehow.  But then there are moments where you stare in the face of something: something big, or ugly, or troublesome, or scary. Just something. And you ask yourself “where did THAT come from?” And because we have to have answers, we trace that thing, whatever it is, backwards. We try to figure it out. Sometimes we can. Sometimes we can’t. But that’s when I realize, again, the thing I always knew: everything matters. Everything leads to something. Good or bad. Everything counts.  Think about it. Don’t you think this is true?

Minutes wasted lead to hours wasted or days wasted. The Golden Oreo (why did they have to come out with THESE?) leads to the Twinkies which leads to the bigger size jeans and to not feeling so great.  Every thought I have, every word I say, every half hour I spend, every bite I put in my mouth…every choice I make is propelling me in a certain direction. The problem I have is that I can’t see the end. I can’t see goal; the destination. The thing I’m working toward seems so far away that I can’t in my mind link the Oreo to it. The end of my life seems years away so what I do today doesn’t matter. I can get it right tomorrow. Or not. It feels out there. Ethereal. Intangible.  So I just roll along. In these jeans. With the TV on in the background. With things in my kids that I need to work with them to change. Things in my own life I need to change.

But the real problem is that I’m waiting for some big opportunity. Some BIG something. And it probably won’t happen that way. You don’t make these changes in fell swoops (I am SO happy I got to type that!). You make them 5 minutes at a time. One choice at a time. What I’m doing right this minute may completely impact what happens with my kids at 4 p.m., good or bad.

A year from now, I’ll be able to see clearly which direction my small choices moved me. I’ll be able to trace it back like I’m watching a movie. Looking forward, it’s a whole lot harder to do.

I have to do this. I see it. I have to do it. I need to identify what’s important and throw out what doesn’t help me achieve that. Along that line, I’m turning off the TV. Before I do, though, I have to ask: What is with all the hugging on Price is Right? Do they bond on Contestants Row? High fives would be a whole lot less awkward…