Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Simple Pleasures, Simple Gifts

So last night I’m blogging about a rough day and being refocused on the God who is getting me through each rough day. Today, I had some simple blessings that helped it be not so rough.

The biggest one is the phone call I got last night I’m still flying high from. There’s a wonderful family GIVING my eldest son a car. It’s a beater car with lots of miles but he’s put tons of work into it so it will last us a while. And I’m a firm believer that everyone should have a beat up first car and a crappy first apartment. It helps you appreciate moving up from there. This family felt moved of God not to sell it to me but to simply give it.

This morning I was “privileged” to get to wake at 6:00 to get my daughter to track practice. But the joy was it’s an off exercise day so I got to head back to bed after the last little duckling was dropped off at school. So what if the dog woke me twice? I got to rest in a comfy bed under warm covers for a whole hour.

I got to take an uninterrupted shower in the quiet of an empty house. How many of my MOPS friends just got jealous? It was so relaxing. Didn’t even shave my legs. I just enjoyed the hot water and nobody pounding on the door to tell me their sibling was picking on them.

I got to put into practice the new organizational tip I’m trying. I bought the kids mesh laundry bags and three out of four of them had actually put their dirty socks inside. Seriously that’s gonna be amazing when they come out of the dryer. You have no idea the levels of hatred I have for sorting socks.

The best treat of my morning was heading to my friend Jaime’s house and sharing with her how amazing and how do-able a family vacation to Disney World would be for her family. I gave her all my best tips and showed her money saving tricks and at one point she laughed out loud and said, “Look at you talk about this. You’re beaming!” I really do love doing Disney right. It brought joy to me and gave her a much-needed break in the midst of her chaos of home remodeling and sick kiddos.

But the day wasn’t over yet! I took my blessing-from-heaven new van in for its first service visit. It was included in my purchase so I didn’t have to worry about what they’d find or how much it would cost. The Toyota lady even ordered me a new part for a small thing that fell off one of the seats—under warranty. And they washed it. That right there made me smile. It looks so pretty now.

As I type this I’m getting ready to start my insane, early-release-Wednesday routine. Today's will include driving to two schools, getting Ryan to the Y to swim laps, taking Kati shopping, making dinner, and running kids to various youth groups. I really hate Wednesdays lately so I think that’s why God’s helping me focus on the fantastic simple pleasures and simple gifts of this morning. These simple blessings, both big and small, will help me, I hope, to keep my focus where it should be for the rest of today.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Fit that Never Was

There’s a t-shirt I’ve seen that reads “I speak in fluent movie quotes.” This is so me. Ask any of my friends and they will tell you that far too many of my sentences begin, “That’s like that episode of…” or “That’s like that movie…” or “Have you heard that song where….” What’s funny is that I think like that, too. And sometimes, God even uses those images that are trapped in my head or those lines to speak to me.

Today I had a replay of a scene from Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and it was not pretty. Remember the scene where the creature, Gollum, is arguing with himself? One side of his personality is drawing closer to being kind and letting go of his rage and the rage side is arguing. The argument is taking place inside his head but it is so masterfully directed that after a while, you think you are watching two people fight.

I sometimes feel like that when I get overwhelmed these days. There’s a part of me, sometimes but not often, that wants to scream. It wants to stomp my feet and throw a fit worthy of a three-year-old. Having my helper, my husband, my partner suddenly ripped from my life right as my children are becoming busy teens isn’t fair. Six months ago when my sisters came to grieve with me, they made me an offer I kind of wish I would have accepted. They offered to drive out into the Black Hills someplace and let me scream at the unfairness of it all until my throat was raw. I didn’t do it then and I didn’t do it today.

Maybe it would be cathartic. Mostly, though, I fear it would mean admitting defeat. I would feel it would be as immature as a small child, even if nobody else heard me. Or perhaps it would just open a floodgate of emotions. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not hiding from my grief. I cry and I feel sad. But I do not wallow and giving in to this seems like wallowing.

Tonight’s trigger was too many scheduled things at once and having to talk my 15-year-old through finishing dinner and trusting him to serve his siblings while I had to run to work later than was normal. It wasn’t even the worst day I’d had like this. But I was exhausted and as I drove to work, the split-screen fight was waging in my head. I’m pretty sure the one side might have been as ugly as Gollum. But it’s the smaller side.

I mean, I have friends who are doing the single parenting thing off and on and they don’t get to pitch a fit. Two of my friends have husbands working for the railroad. They can be gone 36 hours, home for 12, and gone again. Another has a husband gone in the oil fields for two to three weeks at a time. I have military wives as friends. They are doing this and therefore I do not feel I have the right to throw a pity party.

Instead I needed to put on my smile and go record my voice in a professional manner for the radio show I do. I needed to announce coming events and toss in some personal banter all with a smile in my voice so there didn’t need to be a schizophrenic fight lurking beneath the surface. Suck it up, Jenn.

But as the show went on, I think God was gently nudging me back to a place where I wasn’t focused on how hard this was. To be honest, working as a DJ at a Christian station means a lot of times the song titles are just words I’m reading. But not tonight. The very songs I was announcing were gentle reminders of God’s presence in this life I’m living.

There was “Broken Hallelujah” by The Afters reminding me to offer my praise to God even if I’m having to dig deep to find any. There was “I Am” by Crowder with its chorus reminding me where God is in this: “I am holding on to you, in the middle of the storm, I am holding on, I am.” There was Francesca Battistelli’s new song, “Write Your Story,” perfect for the journey I believe God is prompting me to pursue as a writer of the story of all He’s done in my life.

As I continued to struggle to keep the toddler inside me from pitching that fit the songs kept speaking to my heart. “Be My Rescue” by Nicole Nordeman and “Lord I Need You” by Matt Maher echoed that when the stress starts to overwhelm and exhaust me, I know where to turn. The tears were close to the surface now for a different reason. I knew that God knows this stinks. He knows this is hard and it’s gonna take time to figure it out. He knows it’s taking all my strength some days to keep moving forward.

And then I came to a song that reached me in another dark moment of my life. It was a day when my youngest child was having an MRI to see if she could handle open-heart surgery. She was three days old. In that moment of absolute helplessness to do anything for her, God sent me a song by Third Day, “Call My Name.”

Tonight as I listened to the last chords of that song play and started to talk into the commercial break, my voice cracked. I shared with whomever would be listening why this song moves me and encouraged them that God has promised to run to whomever calls on the name of Jesus. Maybe the tears in my voice will reach someone listening. I may never know. But they reached me and shut that little fit-throwing-toddler in my head right up.

Maybe there will come a day when I need to scream at the unfairness of it all—of losing my husband of twenty years with no warning, of having to care for four kids all by myself on the hectic nights when friends are too busy to help, of grief just not being fair. But not tonight. I just needed some reminders of who God is and where He is. I just needed to call His name.