Today (Sunday, that is) I was sort of reaching that point. You know what "point" I mean. The "boiling point" or the "point of no return" or the "point at which" the whole world caves in on top of you. I was right on the cusp, I'm tellin' ya. And this he knew.
I've just been dealing with a lot lately. There are things I still haven't learned to manage. Like how to "handle" it when suddenly and without reason, four children begin to make seven different noises all at the same time. Does anyone out there know how--at those moments--to keep from screaming "STOOOOOOP!!" and simply running from the room or even how to keep one's mind from totally spazzing out and becoming what amounts to a puddle of jello? Sometimes I just get so very overstimulated.
Know what he did? He hugged me, told me he loved me, asked me what I'd like to do today, and then helped me do it. He even encouraged me to press on when I was wearing down. We put away clothes (did you know we'd been to Conway twice in two weeks for days on end and never managed to fully unpack?) and did some general straightening. It wasn't a lot, but a little goes a long way sometimes. You know? Then he took the big kids to Home Depot and Kroger while the babies had their naps. He came home with groceries to make dinner, which HE did. Steak, salad, summer squash, fresh corn on the cob, plantains, and strawberries. Oh, I'm so glad to be coming out of winter and into my favorite "fruit and vegetable" season! And it was truly helpful, as I've been stuck to this computer for the past several days trying to repair damage caused by viruses.
Anyway, this man of mine never complains when he comes home to a messy kitchen and toy-strewn living room or even a bedroom with the same dirty clothes on the floor that were there that morning and a bed FULL of 3 piles of clean laundry still to be folded. He has every reason to!! I beat myself up about these things CONSTANTLY. Because he deserves so much better. I just struggle to keep up! It requires so very much energy. Man, back when we just had the ONE baby, you should have seen my house!! I was ultra-organized and I took Noah to the park and shopping with me and I made homemade crackers and other baby snacks (because I cringe at the very thought of Gerber baby puffs!) and I never got behind on laundry and my toilets were always scrubbed clean and there was no dust and my sheets got washed on a regular basis and dishes were never piled up in my sink--my sink SHONE! *big sigh*
Please don't get me wrong. I am so thankful I have three more sweet babies to love on, but the price tag to that is that there are more things to do and way less time in which to get them done. So God is teaching me (slowly--because I'm a slow learner) to be patient, to get over the chaos (because it's not as important as the hearts of my children), and to turn from my pride. He's putting people (and reading material) in my life to bestow Godly wisdom upon me so that I have some understanding of what parenting is really about and how to do it biblically. Thank you, Lord.
Lately, I've spent a lot of time trying to make things work. In my mind, it seems to me once we teach the kids what the words "honor" and "obey" mean that we should now SEE that play out on a regular basis. Uh...yep, I'm a dork. How could I forget that SANCTIFICATION takes time???!! After all, I'm 34 and still in the process!! Why can't I look at my children and see them as the little balls of clay that they truly are? And understand that they can't mold themselves? That it takes time to get them to look like the creatures God wants them to be. And that it's GOD who will make them that way. Not me. No matter how hard I try, I can't CREATE them. Instead, I get the benefit of being USED by God as he does His work in them. Now.......what that looks like on a daily basis is what I'm trying to figure out. I'm not exactly sure how (yet) to disconnect my emotions (anger, fear, frustration, worry, etc.) from my parenting so that I present a picture of Christ for my children.
I mentioned here that I am reading The Prodigal God by Tim Kellar. It has been an eye-opener for me. I had no idea that I was trying so hard to do the things God wants from me (in my own strength) and therefore have been turning myself into (basically) a Pharisee. I've become more engrossed in my SELF-righteousness than in the very love and grace God has given ME which makes me righteous in His eyes. I've ignored the fact that I need G-R-A-C-E in each and every moment of life to do what I've been called to do. I mean, I started out okay, but it's pretty easy to sort of get into this pattern of behavior where you are a "moral" person for the sole purpose of fulfilling some inner determination you have to just be "good" and "kind" and "honest," etc. After a while, however, as life becomes harder, it is harder to keep it up because it's all been done in your own strength and for your own benefit (feeding your pride). And besides that, it KEEPS you from an intimate relationship with your Creator. That's not the life HE wants us to have.
Whew! So. Paul and I have been following this particular pastor for several years now. We catch him on YouTube all the time and have read some of his books. We think he's pretty awesome. We even considered moving to his town just so we could attend his church. Yeah, he's THAT good. (His ministry is also one of the ones listed in my LEFT sidebar.) So you can imagine our excitement when our own pastor (a co-host on FamilyLife Today) invited Paul (and his tag-along WIFE) to come hear him address the staff at FamilyLife and then maybe stay for the recording session for the radio broadcast, during which he would talk about his latest book (a great one, by the way). We were so excited. We were ushered in as our pastor's guests and seated on the second row right behind Dennis Rainey, co-founder of FamilyLife, and the man of the hour himself, Voddie Bauchum! Right. behind. him. WHAT!?? You better believe I whipped our book right out of my converted diaper bag and had that man sign it (well, okay, Paul did the asking).
It turns out the message he gave that morning was JUST the one I needed to hear. (Isn't God great that way??) In summary, he talked about how easy it is to get caught up in "Works Righteousness" and stop relying on the Lord for wisdom, grace, and strength for our everyday lives. Um, yeah. That even as true believers, our human nature preconditions us to TRY hard to be good, to live right, to obey His Word, and that if we do all those things (cross our "t's" and dot our "i's") then that somehow means we have a right to be blessed by God and avoid tragedy and heartache. Deep down, it's true. It's why when something bad happens to somebody, we all automatically sort of think ridiculous thoughts like "Why didn't I pray for that" or "He/She probably wasn't a believer" or some such nonsense. It's WRONG--natural, but wrong.
Instead, we ought to stop thinking of our selves so much and what we want/like/need/hope/feel/desire/plan/think/love and start worshipping the Lord in all our ways!! If we will just love and honor our God with every part of our being, the whole "living right" thing will just come out of us naturally (because of Christ in us)...and with way less effort (than I've been putting forth). And then when things go wrong (and they WILL, because we live in a FALLEN WORLD), we would never have reason to be angry with God, yet we would have a God we could talk to easily and feel His presence with us. Man, did I need that little kick in the pants! Seriously.
Part of Voddie's message is on video in two parts here and here.
After the talk, Paul and I actually went and had lunch together...AT a restaurant!! How amazing is that?! Then we stopped back by the house so Paul could get my Coolpix, because he was going BACK for the radio session! (I, on the other hand, needed to get back to being a mommy.) Of course, he thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing, especially getting to chum around with Voddie (Ahem. Dr. Bauchum.) and snap a quick pic for proof of their fast friendship. I just love that my guy is so into awesome preachers who are not afraid to "bring it."