My husband’s muscular arm reached over mine as we lay in bed, waking me to hear those three whispered words no woman wants to hear in at 4:45 am. You know the ones, Ladies. “The kid’s awake.” (Collective groan.)
He had been up at 2:30 and the baby woke at 3:30, so the pull of the warm blanket was especially tempting, but it was time to get to work. I rose from the bed without looking back, quietly opened William’s bedroom door and found him sitting on the ground. As is custom, I put him back into bed and crawled in, attempting to get him to snooze for at least thirty minutes while my man leaves for work. As it so easily can, our parenting plan failed.
About ten minutes later, my man opened the door and slipped his car key into my waistband. “I am sorry, but I need your van. My tire has a screw in it. I need you to get it repaired today. I took the car seat bases out for you, just in case. I’m sorry. I love you.”
Meanwhile, William sprang out of bed and ran down the hall with a delighted squeal, like a piglet released from a pen.It figures. The past three weeks have left me looking and acting like a certain penguin from the movie Happy Feet:
My glorious plans for my morning had just been… screwed.
Now, if my life is marked by anything, it is things NOT going to plan. I spend most of my time in waiting rooms, exam rooms, hospitals, and just coping with the responsibilities of making a home when the military relocates us roughly every 24 months. Without fail, someone will comment that based on my attitude and smile, I seem to be doing well. (Likewise, when I stop smiling and get riled up, I am suddenly the melting-down, crazy mother. There is rarely a margin on either side of the ditch!)
The “secret” is not glamorous. It is a disciplined training of the mind and spirit. In the words of Mr. Rogers’ Daniel Tiger, (clearly inspired by the Holy Spirit)– “When something is bad, turn it around and find something good”. aka “renewing of your mind”
1.FIND THE GOOD in the situation
I mentally list these rapid-fire as I try to work out the new plans.
Do I have to drag the kids out of bed? No. I have a vehicle that my man can take to work so that I don’t have to wake all the kids and drive him to work. Are there appointments today? NO! Praise God. We have an air compressor that can fill the tire up so that I can get it to a shop today. Best of all, my DADDY is here and can help with the kid logistics.
2. GIVE THANKS and PRAISE
Thank you that this happened today and not tomorrow, when Jonathan’s chemo could have been delayed, the kids would have been in tow, or the men could have been stranded in Baltimore traffic during rush hour. Thank you that it stopped raining during this 5 day deluge long enough to fill the tire with air, walk the boys to the bus, and drive to the shop! Thank you that the tire didn’t flatten in a parking garage! Thank you that we live near several tire repair places!Thank you that I could find the tire attachments to the air compressor. THANK YOU that my father could help juggle the kids and then offered to get the repair done so I didn’t have to drag the baby. Thank you for a father who is responsible, loving, and still takes care of me, while also getting along with my husband! Etc…
3. Can I get a witness? Testify!
Rather than take pride in our preparedness, ability, financial margin, or “good fortune”, this is when God MUST be given proper credit and glory. He takes care of us! This is not karma. As a mom of three little ones, they witness how I handle every situation. That is a lot of pressure! I told Jonathan that I was frustrated, showed him the nail, let him see how Pop used the compressor, and I prayed with thanksgiving as we waited for the bus. They can’t read my mind, so I must verbalize gratefulness.
4. Speak TRUTH to yourself
Eliminating negative self-talk and focusing on a positive thought sounds great, but it is watered-down guidance for a HARD discipline. Whether we are self-deprecating, take pride in our own ability to solve problems, fall into a “the world is horrible!” spiral, or throw off all responsibilities in favor of a Netflix binge because we “literally can’t even”, ALL of us can be pulled into sin by problems. The difficult, disciplined work of the Holy Spirit is to refute these lies with truth. A few personal favorites:
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Romans 8:38
Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 2:3
This take time and prayer. Speak truth to one another! Put it on notecards in the bathroom! I learn new verses from kid music! Surround yourself with TRUTH.
5. LOOK OUT!
In war-torn, impoverished countries, hospitality and giving are often hallmarks of society. It seems backward to our society, where we give from abundance and notoriously hoard our “blessings”. My sons may stand out for their cancers and disabilities at school or church, but in the waiting rooms we are just like everyone else. Look to the needs of others. On my hardest days, I deliberately encourage others more. It invariably snaps my focus back to Christ. Look outward and upward.
I may be running all over the place, but I have a little one here who is learning to crawl for the first time. She needs my presence, gentle guidance, and encouragement. We all have others in our lives that need the same.
6. Remember the Alamo.
Remember, the Alamo fellbut it bought the necessary time for a successful victory. Lose the battle, win the war.
If I become self-focused and distracted by circumstances from tires to endless appointments and care, my circumstances dominate my mind. By asking, “How can I honor God and become more like Christ in this situation?”, I remember that character is more important than cancer. As I defer the Holy Spirit, I give glory to Christ, who gives glory to the Father. The War has been won, but I don’t get a pass to sit and eat Bluebell Ice-cream. The standing orders must be followed.
The car is back in the drive-way, patched up and ready to drive to the hospital tomorrow. My morning wasn’t wrecked and the I got a good butt-whoopin’ by the Spirit this morning. The devotional I planned on doing this morning didn’t get done, but God spoke mightily.
Now, we Drive ON!