Life in Michigan was comfortable. Although we were extremely busy with our ministries at church and Alpha Omega, we were working alongside our dear friends, in a community we had lived in for years. Our roles were clear, our niche was established. Now God has called us to leave our niches and our comfort zones in Michigan, leave our families and our friends and everything familiar, and head to White Creek.
I have had my moments of stress. It is hard enough to be in the spotlight, but to be in the spotlight while trying to manage four, um… spirited children… it’s like trying to manage four monkeys in a candy shop. In general they are coping well with the move, but we have had our days. Sometimes it seems like they are desperately needy and emotional, arguing over everything, and accidentally hurting themselves and each other every two minutes. This state of affairs usually pushes me over the edge to a mommy-sized temper tantrum, which produces more neediness and conflict, and the cycle repeats. It is not pretty.
My first Sunday morning without family help happened to be Pastor Brandt’s farewell Sunday. The church that seats only 300 people somehow hosted 450 that day. Afterwards there was a lunch, so we very slowly made our way through the crowd to the line, stopping every few feet to meet a new family or two. The kids had just been in church for over an hour, they were starving and could smell the food, and they had absolutely nothing to do but hang on me and whine and fight with each other. Meanwhile, I am overly conscious of BEING WATCHED, so that their little monkey behavior irked me much more than was called for.
We survived the wait, the meal, and the presentations afterwards with no major monkey scenes, but my nerves were completely shot. I took the kids home at the first opportunity, and gave them each something to do so that I could scrounge in the kitchen for some comfort food. Josh came home to find me standing in the kitchen scarfing down leftover potatoes for no reason (we just ate at church). He tried to make conversation, and I got out one word in response to his question then burst into tears and ran out of the room. I felt like a big, potato-filled Aggie.
That afternoon I begged God for some refuge, which He promptly gave me in the form of a novel and 2 hour hot bath, and I felt much better by evening. Even pastor’s wives neglect the Word and try to do things by their own strength. This is a huge transition for our family, and at times I am lonely and stressed and overwhelmed with my own needs, not to mention the needs of the entire family. So once again, I have had to relearn the same lesson: I am desperately in need of God’s grace every single hour- His Word to give me strength and mental clarity- His love to give me peace.
This week I began with the resolve to actually read this Word I am always hearing about, in the morning before the sources of my stress wake up. In the two whole days I have managed to keep this commitment, I have found much encouragement and hope. God does hear my prayers, and He is my constant when everything around me is changing. He will equip me to do what He has called me to do. His love for me and for my family is just the same in this far off place as it was in Michigan. That is truly hope and nourishment for the soul, and even more comfort than a bowl of potatoes.
Giving Thanks (inspired by)
Thanks be to God, Father, Son and Spirit, for the abundance of good things he pours on His children.
We are but few, but His blessings are many.
Friday, July 11, 2008
Today I woke up feeling unusually ambitious. I have unpacked all the boxes and found homes for almost everything, so I felt the need for a new challenge. The girls are up in Michigan spending time with family until Monday, so my life is relatively calm this week. As I snuggled my boys on my soft couch and drank my morning's coffee, I thought to myself, "Today might be a good day to potty train Seth! With the girls gone and no plans, I bet we could tackle this skill easily!" I excitedly got out the potty chair, the colored marshmallows, the chocolate milk, and told Seth of my plans during breakfast. I mentioned the food first, so of course he was agreeable.
Breakfast is over, time to start the fun! I got Marcus dressed, then stripped down to let Seth sit on the potty. Instant success! Praise for Seth, a victory dance, and one colored marshmallow- this is a piece of cake! (the chocolate milk was reserved for the BIG success, #2) Next I got him dressed, WITHOUT a diaper (I told you I was feeling ambitious) which absolutely freaked him out at first. Once I explained to him that Daddies and big boy's don't wear diapers, and neither does he now that he can use the potty, he was agreeable and did a little dance about it. Then I introduced him to his little blue potty- a portable one which I intended to bring downstairs with us. As I picked it up, Seth was flailing around the bathroom doing who knows what, and somehow the potty chair whacked him in the lip. HARD. Screams and blood and the whole works.
He did not stop bleeding right away, so rather than risk blood drops all over the house, I figured we should stay in the bathroom for a few minutes while I hung some pictures. Seth and Marcus play together with bath toys while I get one picture on the wall, when all of a sudden I sniff- "Marcus, are you stinky?" Seth laughs and says "Yeah Marcus stinky," when I notice the brown blob by Seth's foot. And on his leg, and his other leg, and the cupboard.... A stinky blob, that my big boy does not even NOTICE in the least- He really thought it was Marcus. It has been approximately 4 minutes since he has been on the potty.
So I stood there in my freshly-painted bathroom with the blood spots on the floor and the little big boy covered in poop he can't smell, and I decided we are just not ready for this.
The idea, the preparation, the excitement, and the attempt- the retreat- over just like that! After his bath Seth and I were both relieved to go back to diapers and forget any of this ever happened.