Wednesday last was definitely “one of those days”…
The kids and I enjoyed ourselves very much that morning, even having the opportunity to play outside for a short spell. But all too soon it was time to get ready and get out the door, and as usual, I found myself getting flustered. There’s just something about dressing two wiggly children (their little brother or sister who still lives in my stomach making it more difficult by the day to comfortably reach their feet to administer shoes and socks) that can make a hormonally imbalanced pregnant woman want to pull her every last hair out. The very hair that Gideon kept flapping into my face as I tried to get his shorts on.
I wasn’t grouchy because I was not excited about where we were going. On the contrary, I had an 11:00 date with our Senior Adult Prayer Circle, one of my favorite meetings of the month, where some of my most beloved friends allow me to join them in Bible Study and prayer, and on extra special days, follow them to a lunch outing. Wednesday was one of those extra special days and so I had left a little extra room in my stomach that morning, knowing good food was on the horizon. Which probably didn’t do much to help my frazzled nerves. It should also be noted that my Momma usually keeps the kiddos for me on this day, but as her house is under a new phase of renovation, she was unavailable for the first time, like, ever. But young Moms have been toting their little ones around for centuries, have they not?…surely I could make this work, maybe yes?
So, back to the getting ready part, and I already know the answer to this question, but I’m going to ask it anyway: do you ever just wish your kids would stand still while you dress them?! Rebekah has a playful edge to her resistance, adding winsome giggling to her wriggling, but by the time I got her clothes on, the pound of boogers all wiped off her face, her tangled morning hair brushed and pulled back, and a smack of lotion on her cheeks to make it smell like I had bathed her, I was tuckered out enough to call it a day. And then it was time to dress Gideon. He is not so much playful as he is unhelpful, flopping around, getting distracted by what is on television, and like I said, swatting at my hair or crisscrossing stands of it across my face while I try to button his pants. And he absolutely hates having his hair wet down and brushed, yelling “Ow! Ow! Ow!” the entire time I groom him. All the more reason to do so quickly and furiously…which makes him hate it even more. Which makes me hate it even more. Which makes him hate it even more. Which makes me want to start smacking him on the head with the brush while spraying him in the face with the water bottle…
And so it is no wonder that, by the time they were presentable, both kids were crying, I was sweating, and those pregnancy hormones were obviously jumping into a high and unstable gear.
But I had to press on. I began loading myself up like a traveling coat-rack with my giant purse, nigh-unto-bursting diaper bag and portable high chair, slinging each one over my shoulder, and was finally ready to usher the group of us out the door and into the van when I noticed that Gideon had an entire glass of milk still sitting on the table. Oh, the temptation was so very great to leave it there, but I thought of those poor Oklahoma cows who had worked so hard to provide for us, so at the last minute, I scooped it up to put it in the fridge before we left. But somewhere, somehow, between opening the refrigerator door and placing the milk inside, I dropped the key to our van…and apparently our laminate floor decided to swallow it whole. Within minutes I had completely unloaded the luggage from my shoulders, searched frantically and frustratedly through each bag, and Gideon, Rebekah and I were all on our hands and knees looking in every nook and cranny for a key that had vanished into thin air. A key that we still haven’t found. But the minutes would not stop ticking by! I finally had to give in and call for Mr. Gore to come to our rescue; he drove up the hill straightaway in his noble Pontiac steed to bring us another key.
Needless to say, by the time we got the alarm set, the house locked, the kids and bags loaded up in the van, the van driven down the hill, the kids and bags unloaded at the church, and the kids and their snacks arranged in front of a television Chris had set up in the church hallway, I had completely forgotten why I was so eager to be there. I joined my Senior Adult friends at our table in the fellowship hall, made my typical greetings, smiling here, hugging there…but when I finally sat down, I no longer wanted to be a part of a group of people, even my favorites. I wanted to lay my head on the table and cry. Or vanish into an empty Sunday School room and lay on the floor with my shoes off. Or go lay in the cold, quiet dirt in our yard and look up at the sky, with nowhere to go and nothing to do and no one to dress. You get the key point, though, right? I wanted to lay down.
But then Chris pulled out the Bible and began to read. The text did not address my specific situation that day, nor did it need to. The Words of Life washed over me like a refreshing stream, realigning my heart and my spirit, filling me, for a moment, with peace, and drawing me back to reality. We wrongfully assume that the “realities” for a stay-at-home Mom like myself are those moments like the one I described above, corralling squirmy children, growing frustrated over a lost key, giving in to raging hormones that call us to be alone, to have “me time”. But when the light of God’s Word is shed on our deceptive hearts, those moments and those attitudes become nothing more than self-centered, me-focused, and oh so earthly. And so when I say I felt peace, it wasn’t because reading the Word of God is mantra-like, a meditative escape from reality. I felt peace because, the Bible is true – my heart knows it, my spirit knows it, my brains knows it – and it never fails to bring me back to the reality that my life is nothing more than a pilgrimage, and that my purpose is to bring glory to God in my thoughts and in my actions as I travel along my way…even when I lose a key and want very badly to lay in the floor and throw a good ol’ fit.
It’s not like anything changed around me. I still didn’t know where the key went, my children were still…children, my hormones were still out of whack; in fact, within minutes, Gideon appeared in the fellowship hall as we read from the Bible with his shorts and his underwear pooled around his ankles, whispering oh so loudly that there was a spider in the boys bathroom. Five minutes after that crisis was resolved, he reappeared in the exact same place – as we were praying this time – and whispered oh so loudly that he needed to go poopoo. Five minutes after that crisis was resolved, the meeting was over and it was time to load up again and drive to lunch!…
A lunch that turned out to be super fun, super delicious and super stressful. Gideon was flinging his butter knife and all six of his arms (little boys are born with at least four extra) around several mugs of piping hot coffee, while Rebekah couldn’t stop digging in Mr. Kenneth’s shirt pocket. It is one of her favorite Sunday morning rituals to empty his pockets and study each of its contents, one he always happily indulges, but on this day, he was held captive as he sat next to her for well over an hour, maybe two. I didn’t dare look at my clock. She also thought it appropriate to add new items to his pocket, three straws, a cracker, and an empty creamer bucket. Well, almost empty…there were maybe four drops of creamer still inside…before she dumped those in his pocket too. I used up every last bit of my energy keeping her distracted so poor Mr. Kenneth could eat in peace. And in the meantime, I allowed my Mother Hen feathers to get ruffled again, even viciously pecking at my amazing Mr. Gore in frustrated whispers that no one else could hear, periodically kicking him under the table when I saw his eyes straying back to yet another ridiculous restaurant television displaying yet another random sporting event (Don’t they know we have those at home?!…), when instead I wanted him to read my mind and single-handedly fix my stressful situation.
No, nothing changed around me, nothing at all, but guess what else never changes? The truth and inerrancy of the Bible…
Like I said, it was one of those days from start to finish, but the Word of God was also there, wooing me the entire day, reminding me to keep that attitude in check, even if I was tempted to lose my cool twenty more times before the sun finally went down. And to quickly apologize when I did lose it and start all over again. And to remember that the world does not revolve around me and the way I’m feeling and the way I wish things would happen…it revolves around a Creator who calls, who demands, that if I am going to claim to follow Him, I must walk as Jesus walked. Even when only my children are watching and we are in a major time crunch.
It was obviously not one of Mrs. Gore’s best days, but the good news is that, even on my worst days, I have been given a Comforter, the Holy Spirit, who convicts, who guides, who chastens, who helps, and who always brings the Word of God to life in a heart that was once dead. That Wednesday makes me think of a hymn, one verse in particular…
Jesus, what a strength in weakness! Let me hide myself in Him;
Tempted, tried, and sometimes failing, He my strength, my victory wins.
Hallelujah, what a Savior! Hallelujah, what a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving, He is with me to the end.
And oh boy, is that ever my prayer, thank You for helping me, and please, please!, be with me until the end. And please help me find that key…
“Jesus! What a Friend for Sinners!” written by J. Wilbur Chapman