Thursday, December 25, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Is it really that time of year again already? How in the world did the Christmas season sneak up on me so quickly? It feels like we were just dressing up in our Halloween costumes and parading up and down our street asking for treats. ...and of course I am so far behind. I have so much more to do before Christmas and I really feel like my life is completely and utterly chaotic!!
Last week poor Ayla came down with the stomach flu. (Rotovirus to be exact. My doctor of course let me know that had I gotten the vaccine for her, she never would have contracted it. Boy, if that doesn't put an already concerned mother on a major guilt trip, I don't know what does...) Next, I caught it, then Joe, then Jonah. Micah has been the only one in the clear, but that could change in a heartbeat as we know all too well. I think that I have been more stressed out this Christmas than ever before. I am working more now than I ever have since having children. Joe is coaching Jonah's hockey team, trying to get Micah to his hockey and trying to balance a brand new job. And I am coming undone to say the least. Even though I am probably one of the most unorganized people ever, I am a planner. Usually I am ahead of schedule with Christmas and I am not this year and I am feeling guilty in many, many areas. Am I the only crazy one out there or are all moms this insane or at least feel a little insane? And to top it all off we volunteered to host Joe's dad's extended family Christmas party with 23 adults and 13 children between the ages of 1 and 9. (Did I mention that we have Christmas Eve at our house as well?) I am not complaining. I am excited about it, just a little bit nervous and anxious and flipping out about my MESSY, MESSY house that has got to get picked up/cleaned up in like 4 days!!!
So now that everyone is healthy (not counting chapped lips and noses that won't stop running), I decided to get some pics of the kiddies. So just picture this with me; three kids, three smiles, three faces with eyes that are opened, six arms set nicely in a relaxed position (not flying up in the air, like animals), ...YEAH RIGHT!!! I literally turned into the most horrific picture-taking monster. My poor kids had to force smiles as I yelled at them in the most ugly, angry tone to,
"JUST LOOK AT THE CAMERA AND SMILE!!!"
And that wasn't all I was yelling. I was telling the boys how they were worst than the baby, and how they were acting like animals and I even told poor Jonah that he was "fake-smiling"!! So now the boys are crying and I am yelling at them to wipe away their tears and "SMILE!!" I know you probably think I am a horrible, abusive mother. Trust me, I feel like one. I am just being totally open and honest. I struggle with this. I fly off of the handle. Not just with my kids, but with my husband too. I'm sure I could use some counseling but I want to get some stuff out on the table. I am sick of pretending like I have it altogether and my life is perfect. I think if we start opening up with each other more with our weaknesses, maybe we could strengthen each other up a little bit more. I don't want to let the enemy win and sit here in a pool of guilt and self-pity, yet I struggle so much with forgiving myself, especially when I hurt my children's feelings and crush their little spirits. So, I'm just getting it out there. I am such a sinner. Sometimes I feel it so much more than other times. But there is so much hope because even what I consider to be "righteous acts are like filthy rags" (Isiah 64:6). Recently I found out the definition of filthy rags is exactly what you might imagine it to be, menstrual rags. (GAG!) So if my own good deeds compare to the former, I have so much to hope for in Christ. He forgives me as far as the east is from the west. Praise His Holy Name! He forgives me even when I can't forgive myself! Thanks be to my Redeemer! He graces me with His precious Holy Spirit who fills me up with the peace that passes all understanding. Thankfully, I can't completely put my mind around it though. I am grateful that God is God and I am (wo)man.
With that being said, today was a new day. I apologized to my babies and they told me that they forgave me. Today I tried to slow down a bit. I actually sat down at the piano and played some Christmas carols and immediately I was taken back to my childhood and all of the excitement of Christmastime seemed to well up inside of me. I envisioned the shepherds startled by unearthly angelic beings appearing in the quiet, dark night long ago. I pictured our king swaddled in his mother's arms as Joseph gazed down at a promise fulfilled. I imagined wise men journeying by a beaming star to the long awaited savior with their expensive gifts to present to him. I was humbled as I thought about my God leaving his place with the Father to make himself human and to come in the lowliest way...a feeding trough, with the smelly, dirty animals and to leave this earth in the most humiliating way possible...on the cross, beaten, scoffed at, with the lowliest of the low; with the criminals, the law-breakers, the sinners.
And once again, I am so humbled. I can and never will have it altogether. I will continue to mess up with my husband, my kids, etc... But I have a savior, a redeemer, who cared enough to come to this earth in the lowliest of ways and die for me, in the lowliest of ways... and one day He will return, in all of His Glory, to take me home to the place He has prepared for me. Thinking about that is enough for me to slow down and remember what life is all about.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
The date was December 3, 2000. I was pregnant with my first child and three days over due. On and off all day I was having contractions and finally in the evening around 9pm they started getting harder and more consistent. Joe drove me to the hospital which was a twenty minute car ride down a pot-hole infested Michigan freeway. That was not fun! We got to the hospital and I thought for sure the doctor was going to tell me I was ready to push but instead he let me know I was barely dilated to one and was going to send me home. I pleaded with him and told him how much pain I was in, so he admitted me to the hospital and gave me some medicine that was supposed to help me sleep but instead made me sick. The hours went by and while I was in the absolute worst pain of my life, my husband mistakingly complained about how uncomfortable the futon was that he was trying to sleep on (and oh how he has never lived that down, let me tell you!). My water broke sometime in the middle of the night filled with meconium and the midwife and a few residents came into my room and told me how the baby's heart rate was dropping and that they were going to call the doctor. I signed papers for an emergency c-section. I have never experienced the peace that passes all understanding until this moment in my life. Joe and I held hands, closed our eyes and prayed,
"Lord, we pray that you will let our baby live. If you choose to take him we accept that, but if you bless us with his life, we will give him back to you. He will be your servant. He won't be ours, he will be yours."
I was so at peace. I knew everything was going to be o.k., even if God didn't allow him to live. I can't even describe in words the comfort that I felt that night. A few minutes later one of the nurses came in and had me get on my hands and knees and rock back and forth. They put a fetal monitor on the baby's head and soon after the anesthesiologist came in and gave me my epidural (the best invention EVER!) and with in twenty minutes I was ready to push. They had the neonatal intensive care unit all set up in my room and the doctor told Joe he wasn't going to be able to cut the chord because it was probably around the baby's neck. Sure enough as soon as his little head popped out we saw the chord wrapped around his neck a couple of times. His skin appeared green. Quickly the doctor snipped the chord and minutes later my sweet Jonah arrived to planet earth. Immediately he let out this loud scream which was music to our ears. The NICU checked his vitals and told us everything was fine. They brought him to me and the love that fills a mother's heart the first time she holds her newborn is indescribable. Tears of joy filled our eyes as we gazed at this precious blessing. Our good friend who happened to be one of our pastors at the time, came in and prayed with us. Not knowing what we had asked our God earlier, he prayed that Jonah would become a mighty leader and servant of the Lord Jesus. While he was praying Joe and I sensed the presence of God right there in that little hospital room. We had such a confirmation in both of our spirits of God's will for our little baby's life.
Throughout these eight years of Jonah's life I often think of this miracle. Every year on his birthday I tell him the story all over again. His lips curl up into a little smile and his blue eyes twinkle as he looks up at me and asks to hear it again.
His name means "like a dove" and he truly is. One of the definitions of dove is peace. Jonah is so compassionate and loving. My prayer is that God will use him to bring this love and peace that comes from above to many. I know that his life is going to be significant. I know that he will lead many to Christ. I know this because my God chose to bless me with his little life and I truly believe God honored my prayer. Jonah is His servant and His child and I thank Him for allowing me the pleasure of mothering him.
Father in Heaven, please forgive me for not always remembering your miracle. Thank you for my sweet Jonah and help me to lead him and raise him in your ways. Thank you for your grace that you bestow on me when I don't but help me to do your will, daily.