Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Selfish Servant

If you walked into my home today, knowing the Tara Cole of yesterday, you would probably think an alien has taken over my body.

I’m going a little nuts lately.  And I don’t mean nuts as in checking-myself-into-a-mental-hospital-nuts.  I mean going nuts doing the opposite of what usually drives MYSELF nuts.

I had to do it: my health started to collapse and it scared the stupid out of me.

The woman that stayed up doing dishes, blogs (sorry, had to let this go some!), laundry and the million other things I only longingly glanced at during the day en route to grabbing another diaper to rescue a stinky bum or heating up a bottle to quiet a crying mouth is NO more.

This is a new woman: I’m taking baths and leaving messes.  I’m tearing up “to-do-list” and building block towers.  I’m ignoring laundry and playing Candyland instead (granted, the kids are recycling undies and wearing mis-matched socks these days...JOKING!  It’s not THAT bad...yet...).  Something had to give and it wasn’t going to be me. I’m eating first (while hiding in the kitchen of course) and being a little darn SELFISH!! 

Yes, I said I’m being a little SELFISH and women, we all need to hear this and do it now and then.  The put-yourself-last, be-a-martyr to the death and HOPE you live to tell about it thing just ain't gonna work, take it from a mother that may be older and finally a little wiser!

Maybe this isn’t a struggle for you and if you have no problem swinging through the drive-thru to grab an ice-cream for YOU (while the kids hyperventilate in the backseat) or could sleep on the mountain of laundry on your bed waiting to be folded (just more cushion for the...sleeping!), I truly APPLAUD you!  Carry on, you wise and wonderful woman!!!

But if you are like me (you poor dear!!) and can’t hardly breathe, much less sleep, until ALL the laundry is folded (military style) and put neatly away then let me pull you into my arms and offer you this sweet encouragement,

“STOP BEING AN IDIOT!  GO TO BED!!  RELAX!!  TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF”  (said while shaking you ‘till your eyeballs jiggle then giving you a hug as we bawl together over our type-A, go-getter-tendencies!!).

Now, there, isn’t that better?  If we can’t be real about life then, well, then that just isn’t any fun!  And remember: we are the new having-fun-and-relaxing-women!

I push myself because I love to accomplish, I love to see something get done!  During this time when the kiddos are little, it feels like in a given day, more gets UNdone than done; and for a goal-oriented gal like myself, it feels like I’m moving backwards in life sometimes which can feel VERY frustrating!

If it weren’t for these health concerns that took my breath away (that are getting a little better!), I think I would have kept on my goal-oriented path that was heading towards a cliff!  Thank God for stuff that scares the stupid out of us sometimes.  Thank God for things that refocus us and give us a chance to get our priorities in order!

A dear friend of mine recently shared this thought, "Something interesting about Mother Teresa is she always ate first, then fed the children." That really stuck with me even though there is pretty much NO comparison between me and Mother Teresa, I DO feel like EVERY meal-time my children will die of starvation (or I will die from hearing them whine and complain...) if I don't get them fed in under 60 seconds! But, alas, I am now taking the first bite. Afterall, I can't care for them if I'm passed out in the kitchen from exhaustion!

So, join me!

Take a bath in the tub and let the dishes pile in the sink (c’mon, ONE night won’t hurt!).  Throw a blanket over the toys in the living room and have an impromptu picnic with the kids (or the spouse, mm-hmm!), heck, maybe even SPILL on the carpet and resist grabbing the carpet-cleaner...for five seconds!!

I’m a new (slightly more selfish) woman and it feels pretty dang good.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Dormitory Delinquent

When it comes to sleeping, I would give myself the grade of a big, fat “F”.  It’s true: I pretty much suck (pardon my french) at REST!

I think the blood pumping through my veins is type D-O because I am do, do, do-it-all (or at least TRY) girl until I pass out.  This is NOT a good thing.

Several recent health concerns were the knife to my back-demanding I surrender my stubborn ways and do less and rest more.  That, and a terrible discovery that I may be allergic to coffee (and caffeine) which left me with no super-powers to energize me when I was running on empty.

Speaking of empty... it was that feeling of being truly empty which finally led me to crawl in total humility to the foot of the cross.  I’d been there before (and SHOULD be there DAILY... MINUTE-LY!).  It was the only place I could be filled and restored; the only oasis to find TRUE rest for my soul.

It was there I laid down the pains of my body,

the turmoil of my heart,

and the anxieties of my mind.

It was there I found Him.

He was all I needed.

He’s all I still need.

I don’t need another do-it-yourself book or project.

I don’t need another event or errand.

I don’t need to DO anything when I am with Him.  

I can just BE. (nice, right?)

I came to get one thing: the thing NOTHING in this life can give me but him: His touch.  His rest.  His peace.

You can’t put a price on it, buy it or sell it but it is worth everything we have.

Every sacrifice we must make to touch Him and feel his presence will seem like NOTHING once we know we are there, in His presence, where there is a peace and a joy that can’t be explained, no matter what you are facing.

When we face Him, we CAN conquer anything.  

Come to Him. Do nothing. THEN, everything else is do-able.  Go figure.

So... that’s rest.  The rest that empowers more than sleep or any amount of caffeine (sigh!!), the rest that restores our souls.

Beautiful verses on REST...

*Jeremiah 6:16
*Isaiah 28:11-12
*Psalm 116:7
*2 Chronicles 15:2

Monday, November 12, 2012

Oranges Between Knees

The explanation for the title of this blog may become VERY obvious after I share a short story of my Sunday morning last week.  It may motivate women across the globe to always keep an orange between their knees, least any baby-making would happen (wink, wink)!  So, pull up a chair, and grab a chair for your teenage daughter as well: this story may relieve you from any more pleading for her to not have sex right now!

My Sunday morning actually began at 1am.  My baby, who is no longer really a “newborn” and as such, should have received the memo that he is supposed to be sleeping through the night awoke hungry and cranky at that hour.  Again at 4am, even AFTER a full bottle, he made another LOUD protest about sleeping “like a baby” (though everyone WITH a baby knows that saying is just a NOT TRUE!).

I had just nestled into my fluffy (unused!!) pillow that was getting lonely without me when a wailing that would put all ambulance sirens to shame grew louder and louder.  I shoved the pillow over my head, thinking it was coming from the nearby hospital when it hit me: that NOISE is coming from my two-year-old who is walking up the stairs...and past my just-got-back-to-sleep-baby’s nursery!!  I shot out of bed, more wide awake than after my morning coffee: desperate to quiet my daughter before she got any LOUDER (though that wasn’t really possible!).

I snuggled her into bed with us and slept peacefully for 18 minutes until 4:20 am when my four-year-old joined us for no apparent reason (not that I was seeking any answers at that hour: only seeking SLEEP!).  There we were: my hubby, me, my daughter and my son: lined up in bed like sardines in a can.  Real cozy.

I didn’t think it could get much worse but should know by now, it can.

I jolted awake at 6am to the sound of falling glass.  What in the world!?  And there she was: my two-year-old who obviously can function on very little sleep sans caffeine.  She was sitting at my vanity, dressed in make-up-war-paint from head to toe.  Bottles of perfume, open mascara and spilled lip-glosses littered the vanity and the bedroom floor.

Maybe it was sleep-deprivation clouding my brain but it didn’t really faze me.  At this point, I just had to survive...oh, and somehow manage to ready all six of us in time for church.  I grabbed my newly-decorated savage to race to the nursery to get my crying baby.  Once again, I hit the ground running before the drool had time to dry on my pillow.

First things first: breakfast time: 10 bowls of cereal served, 2 hit the floor.
5 Sunday outfits on, 2 removed while I dressed the other 3.
2 put back on, 1 replaced with a princess outfit while I was changing a poopy diaper.
1 minute before we have to be out the door, 1 princess outfit left on (victory by perseverance).
5 heads combed.
5 faces scrubbed.
10 shoes on, 4 taken off and left on the floor (which wasn’t discovered until I was en route to church: victory by distraction).

And there it was: another typical Sunday morning.  I realized two things as I drove through the quiet countryside with the children (strangely) quiet in the back-seat:

1.  My un-touched bowl of cereal with milk was still sitting on the kitchen table.


2.  I wouldn’t change this life for anything.

I glances at the faces of each of my children as I drove and thought, they are worth it.  It’s crazy sometimes (okay, MOST times).  It’s loud.  It’s busy.  It’s...our life.  

Each moment is precious as it’s a moment we will never have again (granted, the barrage of poopy diapers, I don’t think I will miss).  The sleepless nights with a tiny baby (IF Daniel could be considered “tiny”?!), the war-painted face and non-stop messes of my “testing”-two-year old,  the infatuation with pink and princesses of my three-year-old, the snuggly and silly times I share with my four-year-old, the late-night chats and “just-the-two-of-us” (or three, if we let my husband hang with us too!) time with my six-year-old. 

Even though I joke that the story of my crazy Sunday morning may make you want to avoid recreating like the Bubonic plauge...the truth is, there have been few things as amazing and life-changing (for the good...usually...!) as having and raising a child.

Even though my bowl of cereal was getting soggy instead of fueling me with energy for the rest of my Sunday (the day had JUST begun!), I would not trade all the breakfast...or all the peace and quiet (and SLEEP!) in the world for any life other than this one: life with our five. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

TAKE 'EM, JESUS!! 'Cuz They're Driving Me CrAzY!!!

While feeling a little guilty about needing a break from my kids today, I thought, if only I could be more like Jesus who said, “Let the little children COME to me...”.  Then, it hit me: what if Jesus was saying that because he saw the frazzled moms in the crowd with children hanging off them like monkeys off a tree and knew that, “Bless their sweet, momma hearts, those women need a break, I’ll tell those little children to come to ME before their moms go INSANE!!”. that is just my (more than likely slightly faulty!) Tara Theology but I will say there are days the last thing I’m thinking is, “Let the little children COME to me...”, instead, I’m thinking, “Let the little children GO from me!!”  Just being real here, not too spiritual or Mother Teresa-ish, I guess!

Speaking of Mother Teresa, just the other day my good friend and I were lamenting our shortcomings of patience and ever-enduring kindness as compared to the wonderful example set by the late Mother Teresa when my friend pointed out that at least Mother Teresa could, “get away from those children once in awhile” and I wondered if they would have driven her nuts from time to time if they were her own children, hmmm...!!  Once again: not super spiritual here, just being real!  

Don’t get me wrong, 99.9% of the time, I am CRAZY about my sweet lil’ darlings!!  The other .1% of the time, they are DRIVING ME CRAZY and I need a BREAK!  Okay, sometimes it’s actually 99.9% of the time they drive me CRAZY, who am kiddin’ here?!  (smile)

Alas, I ever-so-fondly recall those new parent days when I had only one or two little angels, I would feel SO guilty and dreadfully sad to ever leave them.  I remember smothering them in kisses, departing at turtle-speed, and leaving an obnoxious amount of instructions (including a no less than twenty typed pages of schedules, special dietary considerations and stimulating play ideas) with the (wide-eyed and terrified-looking) babysitter who had just undergone an in-depth interviewing process and intense background checks that would make trying to get into the CIA seem like a breeze after that!

Oh what heights I have fallen from!  Now, when I have a (RARE!!) opportunity to escape, I burn rubber outta the driveway so fast that the (blessed and loved with more love than I ever dreamed possible) babysitter is shouting after me, “Wait!!  Is there anything I should know?! you even know my name??”


The new expectation for when I do come back home (and yes, I always come back!) is,

1.  Are they alive?
2.  Is the babysitter alive?

Check, check?  Good to go.

I love my children.  I do...I do...I really, really do...(is it working yet?  Trying a little self-brainwashing here...).  But even though I love each one of them more than I ever thought would be possible, I love them even MORE when I get a breather from them now and then.  When the world around me is blissfully quiet for 60 wonderful minutes while I sip a latte, I am a new mom: a better, more SANE mom!  Heck, some days I’ll take even 60 SECONDS of that.  

And on the days I don’t get a break, in those moments where I’m practicing baby-triage (the loudest cryer gets my attention first), the encouraging words of Jesus echo in my head, “Let the little children come to me.”  Take ‘em, Jesus!  Take ‘em for a minute and thanks for understanding that us mommas need a break.  Forget about just taking the wheel, Jesus--you can take the WHOLE car once I load up all the kids in it!! Th
anks, Jesus, for not making us feel guilty for not being super-moms 24/7.  I just ain't THAT spiritual!!  If there is ANYONE we can be real with, it’s Jesus.  If there is any PLACE we can be frazzled and it’s okay, it’s at the foot of the cross where Jesus also said,

“All who are weary (with little monkeys?) and heavy-laden (with non-stop responsibilities of being a mother?), come to ME and I will give you REST.” (Matthew 11:27-29)

Now that’s a promise that refreshes this sometimes-going-insane momma-heart!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Life a Duck

Tonight, my ten-minutes-of-torture (aka, the mom rant) was ever-so-rudely interupted by a...DUCK.  Yes, you read that correctly: a duck interrupted my exciting and prolific speech to my children about doing more cleaning and being less silly.

It had been a long day and an even longer night.  My husband was working late and by the time eating dinner, cleaning up, taking baths, making more messes, doing more clean-up, brushing teeth, dressing in pajamas, packing school lunches and, once again, making MORE messes was completed, I was a combustible mix of over-tired and under-appreciated.  Look out kids, Momma’s gonna BLOW!!

Instead of losing it like I was daydreaming about and securing a future bill at the therapist office for my children, I took a deep breath, sat my boys down (since they are the only ones that have a long enough attention span to listen to my ten-minutes-of-torture) and climbed up on my “whoa-is-me and you-need-to-listen-and-help-more soap-box".

As it were, my six-year-old had been wearing a duck mask (that's life with kids: random and weird) and since he had asked very politely if he could continue to wear it during my rant, I consented.

So there I was, talking...and talking...and fact: thinking back, I have no idea what I was even saying and I’m sure 99.9% of it was not retained by my boys either!  Especially since I noticed my four-year-old’s eyes were more glazed over than the doughnuts we had eaten for breakfast that morning.

It was somewhere in my speech between a point I was making that was absolutely boring and absolutely pointless, I busted out laughing.  It just hit me: I am giving a speech to a four-year-old that is so bored he is semi-comatose and a ...DUCK!  My laughter knocked both my children out of their stupors and they started laughing too.  They never waste time when there is an excuse to give out hugs so I was mauled by tiny arms hugging my legs and waist as they shared that sweet moment of laughter with  me. Of course, they had no idea why we were laughing, but it was a welcome relief from my rant I’m sure!

I crouched down to be eye-level with my little men and said, “Hey guys--I’m sorry I was kinda crabby (okay, that’s THE understatement of the year!) with you today.  We all do need to laugh more, don’t we?!”

My four-year-old, Judah, grinned and nodded, “And does this mean you’re sorry too that you put me in time-out earlier?”

“No, you stinker!  I really meant that one.”  I had a fresh wave of laughter over that one though, figures he would think he’s pretty much perfect!!

I gave my Judah and my little duck another hug and watched them run off to bed, thinking how I felt like a new person after that wonderful fit of laughter we just shared.  And thinking how I sometimes take myself...and our little world...WAY too seriously.  I want to strive to live a life interrupted.  Interrupted by laughter, messes, little kisses and of course, ducks.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Give. Him. CONTROL!

I had a Pounding the Pavement Therapy Session tonight.

I don’t mean the kind of therapy when you are so frustrated, you pound your head on a brick wall though that comes in handy too sometimes.

I’m talking about nothing but a pair of tennis shoes (well, not totally nothing, just to clarify!) and the great outdoors with a speeds that rival the Fast and the Furious.  Okay, so I got winded passing a granny walking with a cane get the idea.

My husband gave me a strange look tonght when I hopped out of bed, swapped my pajamas for running clothes and said, “Well, I’m going on a run”  He nodded slowly, no doubt thinking that anything that would help me be more sane is an worthy investment even though he would have to figure out how to nurse our up-all-night-baby...but that’s another blog for another day.

The sidewalk stretched before me like a highway to freedom and the cool night air breathed life into my soul.

As I breathed in cold air, my eyes released hot tears and my jumbled thoughts begin to crystallize in the absence of my daily noise and distractions.

I feel I can’t keep up with my life.  At times, I feel I can’t keep my house clean, finish projects and even find time to return phone calls and emails!  Heck, it’s a good day if I had time to make my bed...or flush the toilet before I hit the ground running again.

My list of complaints about myself to my Best Friend that loves me no matter what went on...and on...

...and on... (I think I added a few about my husband too...though those were harder to come up with, of course!).

Finally I ended my conversation with God (oh wait, can it be a conversation if I’m the only one talking??  Hmmm....) with my final beef.

“And sometimes I'm not happy about things in my life.”

Then, I did something rare and wonderful: I shut up.

When I heard God’s response, I nearly tripped over my own two feet while I was running.  

He replied, “Good.”

Excuse me?!!  Pardon me?  Did I hear that correctly?!  Did the God of the universe just say it was a GOOD thing that I wasn’t always HAPPY?  

But that was also the moment I started to smile as I understood in my heart exactly what He meant, “I am more concerned that you are HOLY than HAPPY.  You are being sanctified and part of that process means your life is out of your control and that’s EXACTLY where I want it to be.”

Then I started laughing when I thought of Carrie Underwood’s song, “Jesus, Take the Wheel.”  The problem with my life lately is Jesus has not been at the wheel, heck-there are days I haven’t even l let him in the passenger seat but rather assign him a spot in the trunk (good thing he has supernatural breathing powers!).

Everytime my tennis shoes made contact with the pavement, this one thought exploded in my brain, “Give. Him. Control.”

So easy to hard to do!

But in theory, letting Jesus take control of my life could become easier and easier to do if I would actually practice it (as most things we practice eventually this run that is KILLING my lungs at the moment!).  

Next time I sit down at my computer, overwhelmed, why not give Him control by saying a quick prayer that He would be with me and make my (short) time I have to catch up more effective, more...purposeful?  

And maybe when the dishes pile and laundry breeds like bunnies in the basement, I could ask God what is more important: the mess or my little kids that won’t be little much longer?  Then, when he answers (which, hm...I’m pretty sure I know what THAT answer will be)...why not ask for His grace to ignore the mess until I can tackle it HIS power.

So, Jesus take the wheel.

And I’ll take to the pavement to clear my head when I forget who should be in charge of my life.  The One who promised, “I have plans for you...plans for a hope and a future!” (Jeremiah 29:11)  

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Great Toilet Adventure

Until today, I never knew a trip to the bathroom could be a scary and exciting adventure.

What to do in a house with only one toilet, a toilet that is momentarily sitting outside the bathroom as the bathroom gets remodeled?  

This is a question that didn’t concern me until today when my eyes began to water from holding it so long.  After a quick check-in with the construction crew working on my bathroom, I noted their Jamaican roots and loyalty to Bob Marley were shining through.  The theme of the day was definitely, “Don’t worry, be happy!”, so I left them to their lack of worries to attend to my own: namely, where could I quickly find a functioning toilet?!

The face of our elderly and kindly neighbor lady, Mrs. Smith, floated (literally!) to my panicked mind.  Of course!  Plus, it could be a two-for-one deal as she is always imploring me to visit more often.  The majority of my gang were being cared for (aka, SPOILED!) by the grandparents for the day, so I grabbed my baby and trekked the long distance of twenty feet to arrive at Mrs. Smith’s house.

Of course, she was more than delighted to see me.  Okay, she was probably mostly delighted to see my baby (who could blame her?!  He is MUCH better looking!!) so I accepted her offer to sit down and chat, all the while thinking to myself: MUST. GO. PEE!

“HOW ARE YOU, HONEY!?”  Sweet lil’ Mrs. Smith SHOUTS everything as she can’t hear to save her soul so I guess she assumes the same is true for the rest of the world’s population.

“GOOD, JUST STAYING BUSY!”  I shouted back.


“NO, I SAID, JUST STAYING BUSY!”  I tried to smile while shouting so it didn’t seem so rude.



“I DON’T KNOW WHY YOU DON’T SPEAK UP, DEAR!  I CAN’T HEAR A THING YOU SAY!”  Mrs. Smith shook her head at me and frowned.


“DID YOU SAY RESTROOM??!  OF COURSE, THEN I’LL HOLD THIS FAT BABY!”  As I handed my baby off to her, she shook slightly and I felt like I was placing treasure on the edge of a cliff but then she grabbed him tightly and shooed me off.  Whew, relief at last!!!

I pulled the bathroom door shut and nearly screamed when I turned around and discovered the toilet was almost as tall as me.  There was some sort of enormous plastic doughnut on top and after a quick and apprehensive appraisal of the device, I decided it seemed fairly bonded with the toilet so I nervously climbed aboard.

I had just conquered the Mt. Kilimanjaro of toilets when I heard Mrs. Smith shouting through the door,


I looked down at the toilet paper holder which was now below sea-level and felt great dismay to see the toilet paper roll was indeed naked as a jaybird.  I was definitely going to need some as I also had a nose-bleed at the moment from the dizzying height of the toilet.  At least now if I told Mrs. Smith I was busy and she thought I said dizzy, it would be true.

“OKAY....DO YOU HAVE ANY MORE?”  I didn’t mean to be a princess and a pea here but toilet paper was a pretty important part of this equation.

“JUST COME OUT AND FIND SOME KLEENEXES, DEAR.”  Oh, sure.  Easier said than done without someone to belay for me as I rappelled down this porcelain giant!

After a field-trip through her entire house that was hard to see through my blurry vision as my bladder had now overflowed, Kleenexes were (JOYFULLY!) discovered on a dresser in the guest bedroom.

After repeating all of the above one more time, I felt like a new woman. All I had to do now was wash my hands and it was a done deal.

I turned on the faucet and went to grab a pink bar of soap in the soap dish when I nearly (once again!) screamed aloud.  That was NO pink soap, that was Mrs. Smith’s teeth!  My hand froze just as it was about to make contact with some back molars and I decided a little dirt never hurt.

By the time I exited her bathroom, I was exhausted.  Maybe it was the shouting, climbing the toilet-mountain, the dizzying heights, a quest for tissue or cardiac arrest from my hand nearly being eaten by a floating set of teeth, but I never knew a simple trip to the bathroom could be so...COMPLICATED!


I swooped my baby back into my arms and gave dear Mrs. Smith a big hug.  I guess we all need a little adventure in our lives and sometimes it shows up in the most unlikely of places!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

God WAS There.

Where is God in the most horrific and painful times of our lives?  When something bad happens, what happens to the God that is good?

I believe He is right there, if we look for the unexpected ways He shows up.  

After the painful trial our family went through last weekend, I’m more convinced of this than ever!

It had been a long week as my husband, a youth and children’s pastor, had been away at youth camp for five days.  But Friday had arrived at last and my heart was elated at the thought of seeing my best-friend any hour.  Our five month old, Daniel, had just woken from his nap and after feeding him, I held him close to me and headed downstairs, something we did a hundred times a day.  

Only this time, I lost my footing only two steps down and in one of the most surreal and horrific moments of my entire life, I was flying (head-first) down the stairs (all twelve of them!).  In that split-second, my one and only thought was, “Protect my precious baby!!” and I tried frantically twisting in the air so I would fall on my back but couldn’t turn fast enough.  All of the sudden, we were crashing into the landing face-first, Daniel hitting first and a sick thud filling the air that felt so terrifying I couldn’t suck in another breath.

A cry of pain erupted from his tiny body and I began shouting for help, my heart pounding in my ears and every part of me shaking uncontrollably.  Without even thinking, I began to pray and ask God to protect this child that I desperately loved and would die for without hesitation.  Although my husband, Bob, was not supposed to arrive home for another half an hour, he had made it back early.  In fact, it was just a moment after he walked in the door that he heard the loud thud and my cry for help.  When he rushed to our side, I felt like God had sent an angel just when we needed one.

God was there.

After a quick evaluation of Daniel (who was now vomitting), Bob called 9-1-1 and instructed me to care for the rest of our crew.  I’m not exactly sure why, but I dialed a friend that I knew was in town that day running errands.  She and her children were in the grocery store with a full cart in that she quickly abandoned (the cart, not the kids!) in order to rush to be there for our family.  She arrived before the ambulance did.

God was there.

I drove in the back of the ambulance with my baby, tears streaming down my face.  The EMT sitting next to me looked at me with tearful eyes of his own and said with one of the kindest faces I’d ever seen, “He’s going to be okay.  We have two daughters of our own and this kind of stuff just happens.  You’re a good mom.”

God was there.

As they rushed Daniel into a room, me following close behind, my husband’s sweet aunt who was also an ER nurse happened to see us and her eyes widened in surprise.  She also just so happened to be finishing her shift and immediately joined us in the room, holding our son, holding me and being a steady support through the entire night, a night that was a journey through the valley of death.

God was there.

As Daniel continued to throw up, a CT scan was ordered and the doctors planned to sedate him, a procedure that would be risky in his current condition.  We prayed for little Daniel (who had been crying and distraught) to fall asleep and laid him on the CT table.  Suddenly, he inhaled a shaky breath and fell fast asleep...for the entire procedure!

God was there.

A short time later (which, of course, felt like years!!), the CT report came back at about the same time I noticed Daniel’s right side of his head was starting to swell up as he slept in my arms.  The initial report took our breath away and made our knees feel like jello: a skull fracture and bleeding on the brain.  

The Er room was suddenly swarming with doctors and nurses as they rushed our baby to ICU where a team of neurologists quickly convened to go over his situation and make the tough calls on what to do.

Meanwhile, I was left standing alone in the ER room where I fell to the floor, crying for the Lord to spare my son’s life and take my own.  Bob’s aunt pulled me up and prayed with me as there were no words for that moment, one of the darkest moments of my life.

Even then, God was there.

Bob’s aunt and I hurried to ICU where my baby was hooked up to IVs, monitors and was being carefully evaluated while my husband got on the phone to notify everyone he could to start praying for our little guy.

And I just know, people were praying.  All over our town, throughout our state and I’m sure even throughout this country and beyond, people prayed (thank YOU for petitioning God on Daniel’s behalf at that time too, dear friends and family!!).  I know that God was listening, a miracle was in the works and in the way only God can, He takes something devastating and brings something good out of it.  In the bustle, in the fear and in the darkness of that ICU room, a light began to shine.

God was there.

Through this whole ordeal, I forgot to do something that helps us to stay alive: breath!  After passing out for the second or third time and having a small panic attack (well, my husband begs to differ on using the word, “small”!), Bob picked me up and I vaguely remember the doctor saying, “Get that mom out of here!” as my husband carried me out to the hallway.  I was shocked, “Who is that crazy mom in my son’s room?!”  Then it hit me: Wait...I’M that crazy mom!  

Yep, even in that embarrassing moment of weakness, God was there!

I forced myself to get a grip so I would be allowed to remain by my son’s side.  Right about then, some friends and fellow pastors we were planning on meeting with for our Friday date night showed up (dressed to go out as they had just got the message about Daniel).  They were a strong and quiet support,  laying hands on our baby and joining with us in fervent prayer for him to be completely healed.

God was there.

Our aunt, a seasoned veteran of the ER, informed us that we had some of the best neurosurgeons working on Daniel that one could hope for!  A light of hope shone on my heart when one of these gifted doctors smiled at me and said,

“Daniel is going to be okay, I’m sure of it.  We have four kids of our own and one of our son’s had a brain tumor when he was two...”  his eyes filled with tears at the memory and my own eyes did as well knowing the unbreakable love-bond between a parent and child, “ but he is six now and healthy and strong as you could imagine!”  

Through the gifted minds and hands of this talented team, of doctors and nurses we saw their Creator shining through.

God was there.

The team of doctors had come to an agreement and their assessment was the best news one could hope for in this situation, “The fracture has actually been a blessing as it’s allowing his brain to safely swell while he heals.  And the bleeding on the brain is only a wisp, the smallest amount you could imagine!  We are admitting him to PICU and this next day is crucial but we think he will be just fine.”

I felt like I had just been flung onto Cloud Nine!  I started hugging EVERY nurse and doctor in sight (I think I might have even kissed someone too, hopefully it was Bob but I don’t remember for sure...).  

Without a doubt: GOD WAS THERE!!

The journey was not yet over but I knew we were not alone.  Even in our darkest hour, God’s light had never stopped shining.

A few days later, after another CT scan was performed on Daniel, the doctor was shaking his head in wonder,

“Your boy is 98% healed.  This is...well, it just doesn’t happen.”

He looked at Daniel in his hospital bed, a big smile filling his chubby cheeks and making his double-chin grow even bigger...and cuter!  It was contagious: the doctor couldn’t keep from grinning and neither could me and Bob!!

Where is God in the horrific and painful times of our lives?  When something bad happens, what happens to the God that is good?

I believe He is right there, bringing something good out of something bad...if we look for the unexpected ways He shows up.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Blood, Sweat and NO TIME for TEARS!!

My husband is out of town for a week.  Just a week...I mean, how hard can 6 days alone with 5 kids really be, right?

The morning he backed out of the driveway, my six-year-old son declared, “Daddy said he’ll be gone six days and five nights and that I’m gonna be the man of the house while he’s gone.  That’s a LONG time to be the man of the house!!”

Little did I know just how LONG it would feel (and I’m only halfway through, what a pansy!!)...

Even if my husband is working in town, it’s reassuring to know he’s nearby if anything happens.  And when he is home and working, I know “The Doctor is IN” sign is always hanging on the door.  He’s never too busy for me to collapse into a chair in his office, box of Kleenex in hand, and lament all my failures and frustrations!  This happened just last week and his words of encouragement are still ringing in my ears and lifting my spirits!

“You know how I know you’re a good mom?” he replied to my tearful confession that I mess up A LOT, “You’re raising good kids.”  (Granted, he’s probably pretty biased as he contributed the Y chromosomes...ha!)

My man is my rock, my gravity to keep me from flying off the handle some days!  There is definitely one thing I’ve grown in during our week apart,


Whew, you all ROCK!!

It’s two o’clock and the kids are all napping so here I sit on the kitchen floor, drinking right out of the bottle of my kid’s Juicy Juice (shhh, don’t tell) and in a semi-state of shock that five people shorter than me (a pretty rare thing) can truly kick. my. butt.

I’m exhausted.

Today began with a beautiful sunny morning run that ended in tragedy for my four-year-old’s toes when he momentarily forgot how to brake his bike going down a hill and dived over the handlebars.  The fallout  from his flip-over (other than MUCH weeping and gnashing of teeth) included me carrying home his bike while pushing the triple-jog stroller (now seating FOUR kids).  When we finally got home, Judah on his bike wasn’t the only thing that went  flying downhill!  Fights, upset tummies, crying babies, overflowing bathtubs and dinner-time spills (including baby D’s first major spill when he grew go-go-gadget arms and dumped over a flower vase that created a Niagra Falls off our dining room table!) kept me unable to catch my breath.

By dinnertime, carrying a bike over my shoulder while pushing a triple stroller was starting to look EASY!

I’m trying to remember a time in my life when I have been this overwhelmed.  Even though I have done many different jobs (including working double shifts waiting tables where I was on my feet, rushing about non-stop for over 12 straight hours!), I honestly can say it doesn’t compare to how hard this motherhood thing is.

I’d take a tray full of pizzas and a table of angry customers over a messy house full of crying babies any day!  At least the shift at the restaurant eventually DID end, I could walk out into the sunshine and BREATH again.  Somedays I feel like the only light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train...or my son shooting his new (and LOUD) light saber-gun!!

Motherhood is really stinking hard sometimes.

I always smile when I recall a funny little story a friend once shared about her own struggles, “I remember one day, after someone had unplugged the vacuum cleaner I was using for the tenth time, saying to God through clenched teeth, "Lord, why did you give me all these stupid kids anyway?" Yup. Godly motherhood right there!”

I so relate to that, sometimes I think, “I’m TOO blessed to handle it all!” 

It is blood, sweat and no time for tears!  Or, if you do cry, just try to keep it under 3 minutes.

My husband will be home in two days and I think. I. can. make. it.  It helps to know I have “two men of the house” (my four-year-old and six-year-old that were left large and in charge!) in case I need them but more importantly, it helps to know that GOD (not the hubby!) should ALWAYS be my rock.  Even though it’s not the easiest lesson to learn, I NEED to remember that no one and nothing in this world should be my ultimate support and strength except for the One who made me.  

Thank God He has given me a wonderful support system while I raise all these blessings (including great friends!) but when I need that breath of air, I must remember: HE alone is the giver of life (and sunshine!).  It’s also nice to remember I’m halfway there!  Look out, Dear, when you come pulling in our driveway I’ll be running out to jump into your arms.