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Monday, November 28, 2011

Crazy for Him

I have a confession to make.  I have been holding back a little when it comes to this blog.  Not a lot, but a little.  I've tried to discuss my faith and my experiences candidly but sometimes when I get to saying or sharing certain things I balk.  Not because they are too personal (I am the self-proclaimed queen of the over-share) nor because I'm embarrassed or ashamed.  No, it's because I don't want people to think I'm crazy.  Like, certifiably nuts.

I used to not care about this at all.  In fact, shock-value was something I highly prized.  But I no longer like to shock just for the sake of shocking; I don't like to make people uncomfortable if I can avoid it.  And to be honest, when you tell the average person something like, "God told me..." or "God said the funniest thing the other day..." you get a reaction that ranges in subtlety from a mere double blink of the eyes to an all out recoiling in horror.  I talk to God and, here's the cool part, He talks back to me.  All the time.  Some times in a still, small voice in my head (see, I said "voice in my head"; the men in white coats are on their way for me as we speak), sometimes in a deep sense of knowing in my gut, sometimes audibly.  Yes, audibly.  And some people might think that is crazy, but it also happens to be true.

God talked in the Bible all the time.  I'm not sure why the feeling in modern day is that He suddenly just shut up and let other people do the talking for Him.  He spoke so clearly to Samuel that he got up several times to ask Eli what he wanted from him, only to discover it was God's voice, not Eli's, he was hearing.  God talks.

He also does lots of other crazy things.  He heals.  He raises people from the dead.  He casts out demons (I believe in demons; angels too... wow, this is getting fun).  He makes cars pass through each other rather than wrecking.  He causes the blind to see, the lame to walk, and makes babies hearts beat when before there was none.  And He does it through people who are crazy enough to believe He does it.  That know that when the last apostle  died, the miracles didn't end.  That hear His voice and do what He says, even if it sounds crazy.

When Eddie was about nine months old, we moved back to Austin after a six month stay in Dallas.  While in Dallas, Eddie's care had been badly handled by one of his primary providers, but when I tried to switch to a different hospital I was told that his liver disease had progressed so far that it would be pointless to change.  No specialist wanted to take a patient that only had a few weeks, if that, to live.  It was a fair prognosis; Eddie was extremely yellow, his blood had no clotting factors to speak of, his systems were failing.  I didn't want to stay where he had been mistreated, however, so I called his original GI in Austin and he took him back.  Thanks to generous friend who offered let us stay in their home in Bastrop, we were in Austin a day or two later.

During our hospital stay upon our return, a preacher came to visit us.  One of his parishioners had met my husband, heard our story and passed it on to his pastor.  With Phillip's permission, Pastor Scott paid us a visit.  He laid hands on Eddie and prayed for his healing.  What I witnessed was crazy.  My sick little baby threw his arms in the air as if he'd been electrified and laughed, obviously feeling a flood of Holy Spirit power course through him.  We were discharged a few days later.  His numbers were improving.

Not surprisingly we began to attend this church.  At first it was so awesome to be around these people who believed in signs and miracles.  In radical, crazy healing miracles.  I wanted so badly for my baby to be made whole and had already witnessed God's healing power at work in him time and time again.  I wanted this to be the place where his healing would be completed.  Where he would go from being terminally ill to perfectly well in the blink of an eye.  I just knew it was going to happen.

And great, miraculous things did continue to happen.  Eddie's numbers had improved so much that even his gastroenterologist was beginning to think differently.  Then, suddenly, he was in terrible shape again.  The gastroenterologist wanted Eddie have a liver biopsy, the first step toward transplant.  After much, much, much prayer, we had decided not to go the transplant route.  It would be a terribly painful process for Eddie with very little chance of helping him.  His best case scenario was a liver transplant that would allow him to live long enough to have yet another liver transplant and an intestinal transplant.  Long shot does not even begin to cover it and his quality of life would suffer greatly.  Every time I brought "transplant" to God the answer was "no."  (Remember, He talks.)  So, I bit the bullet and told his doctor our decision.

It wasn't pretty.  Eddie had miraculously recovered on so many occasions that his doctors, who from the beginning had thought his case was completely hopeless, were beginning to think he had a fighting chance.  He did not understand why I wouldn't want to try the only medical option that was left.  My answer wasn't easy, but I said it.  I said, "Because I think it is what God wants and I believe Jesus is the Healer.  If he wants to heal Eddie He will and, if not, there is nothing we can do about that."  He responded diplomatically but I could see it in his eyes.  CRAZY.  I called a time out and asked that he schedule us for an appointment in a week's time.  During that week, we would pray and be open to God changing our minds about the transplant. He said that a week from now Eddie could be in the ER dying of an esophageal bleed.  I said then that would be God's will.  CRAZY.

A week later we were back.  The doctor had spoken to a transplant specialist and, having gotten a realistic look at Eddie's chances of merely surviving the surgery, had reconsidered his opinion and encouraged us to talk to hospice.  The transplant pressure was off, but, better than that, Eddie was better.  Lots better.  He had gained weight and his liver numbers were the best they had been since we had moved back to Austin.  Shocked by the improvement, his doctor asked, "What did you do?"  I answered the only way I knew how.  "Nothing," I said, "We just prayed."  He shook his head but smiled.  Crazy.

We did not attend Pastor Scott's church long.  We found out that part of their theology was that, if you didn't get a miracle, if someone's cancer didn't disappear for example, it was from a lack of faith.  They believed that we have complete control over everything in life -- disease, death, finances, etc -- so if you were poor or sick or if you died, it was because you lacked faith.  One pastor actually said in a sermon that the recent death of an elderly member, who had a heart attack while mowing his yard, was because he didn't pray the right prayer when Satan brought that heart attack against him.  I could go on for several paragraphs citing scriptural examples of why this is faulty logic, not biblically based, and just overall bad ju-ju, but I'll just say that it's...crazy!  Phillip and I actually affectionately refer to that as "The Crazy Church."

I am grateful for The Crazy Church, though.  They were bold enough to pray for my baby with a mad, radical kind of faith and God used their hands to restore him, to buy him time.  They emboldened me to speak the truth, no matter how crazy it may sound.  To speak with boldness that God was going to heal my son and then, when He did, to give credit where credit was due.

When the time came for Eddie to receive the ultimate healing, God didn't blind side me.  I knew it was coming.  Eddie had been a living testimony of God's grace, love and His crazy, miraculous, healing power, but he wasn't going to have to do it forever.  He was going to get to go home and rest as a good and faithful tiny servant of the Lord.  God spoke it to my heart a month or two before he died and, while I fought and prayed against that truth, I knew.  By the time it came, I was as ready to let him go as any mother can be, I guess.

There were probably people back then who had heard me talk crazy -- heard me cry healing, miracles, hope and restoration -- and felt sorry for me.  Thought I probably felt foolish once he died for all that hope that I had carried for so long.  But I didn't; I don't.  Hope sustained me and, through me, it sustained Eddie.  Crazy faith, crazy love, crazy hope carried us through the craziest, most wonderful adventure of our lives.  Our journey was lit up by miracles, by signs, by the Holy Presence and Voice of God and I think it was in large part because we hoped.


God is calling my attention to the crazy people again.  He is surrounding me with them; He is placing them in my path and in my ear.  To the ones who know that the kingdom of heaven is in part a state of mind and we get to live in it and experience its power.  That you don't just learn about God, you experience Him.  You can encounter Him in miraculous ways while you are just hanging out doing ordinary things.  I need that kind of crazy again.  I want to be bold in speaking about the power of God.  Not just talking about it, but exercising it.  Believing, against all odds, full of all hope, unafraid of looking foolish if things don't go the way I thought they would.  To pray radical, bold prayers, sometimes even  out loud and believe that they will be answered.  I want to lose face to gain the kingdom.  I want to make a total ass out of myself for God.  Crazy.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Bliss

I'm just going to start this post out with a revelation that is so simple but so true:  God wants you to be happy.  Truly, deeply, radically happy.  Down to the marrow of your bones.  He desires for your natural state to be one of pure, child-like joy.  As Eastern traditions phrase it, He wants you to be "in bliss."  Really, He does.

To clarify:  that does not mean He wants you to be rich, powerful, famous or even particularly successful.  He could not care less if you are popular.  He doesn't rate your productivity and dole out joy in relation to your output.  In fact, if your modus operandi is the pursuit of the above-listed goals, you are probably pretty miserable.  I'm not saying you don't have your moments, but more likely than not you are most often stressed out and dissatisfied.  At least I was.

I lived the majority of my life exercising my Constitutional right to pursue happiness.  In my younger, wilder days this involved mostly the pursuit of selfish pleasure which, I promise you, ironically leads to abject misery and possibly suicidal depression.  I had lots of money and a successful career:  unhappy.  Lots of friends:  still unhappy.  Lots of stuff:  unhappy, unhappy, unhappy.

I'm not talking about the fleeting sensation of happiness.  I enjoyed lots of that; I had good times.  What I'm talking about is how you feel when you wake up in the morning, even when there are challenges in your life.  How you feel when you are stuck in a traffic jam or inconvenienced in some other way.  If you feel despair, anger, or irritability more often than not then, no matter how much fun you are having, you're not really, truly happy.  To put it another way:  if your happiness is dependent on your circumstances, then you are not experiencing joy and bliss on the level you could be.  On the level God wants you to be.  On the level you were made to be.

Don't believe you were made to experience joy everyday?  Blow some bubbles for a toddler.  Really, go to the dollar store, pick up some bubble stuff and, if you don't have your own young child, visit a friend's.  Blow and observe.  That is who you are, deep down inside, who you were created to be.  After all, Jesus said the kingdom of heaven belongs to little children.  That delight, that wonder can be yours again.

I know because I live in delight and from a worldly perspective, I shouldn't.  I don't have very much money (to put it mildly) though I have many debts to repay.  My life is far from glamorous.  My child, who I loved as if he was my heart itself, is dead.  I could go on, but I think that is enough to cause most people to complain or be unhappy.  But, as I was driving down the highway yesterday morning, I realized that when I'm in neutral, not really thinking about anything in particular, just sort of hanging out and "being," I'm really crazy happy.  Deep down joyful.

I don't worry about stuff any more.  I don't fret and if I find myself doing so I am pretty good at cutting it out.  I have momentary irritations but they resolve quickly.  I don't dislike anyone.  People get on my nerves less and less.  Things make me smile.  I notice how pretty trees and clouds are.  I know it may sound corny, but it's true and I want to share it.  Because in a season where people tend to be busy, stressed out and downright mean (for example, check out some Yahoo! footage from Black Friday... eek!), my home is peaceful and filled with a contagious joy.

What did I do to achieve such a state, you might ask?  I stopped "doing" anything.  I took God's nudging and put on the brakes.  I got still and knew that He was God.  I spent a lot of time breathing.  I stopped systematically going down my prayer list and just got quiet and lifted up my heart to Him.  I didn't get up early to do this.  I didn't find time away from my kids.  I did it while I was driving to the store, as I drifted off to sleep at night, while I gave the kids a bath.  I stopped having rules for my spiritual pursuit of happiness and started just being spiritual whenever I thought of it, just thanking God while I did the dishes.

This isn't the first time in my life that I've come to this realization.  I think, actually, it's the third or fourth.  But it's nice to know it never loses its efficacy.  That if you lose your serenity it is always re-attainable.  Because I'm really, seriously, at peace again.  I'm goofy with happiness.  I'm floating around on a little pink cloud, Buddy-the-Elf style.  And while my feelings are hurt-able, I'm not ever off course for long.

Another amazing thing that is happening is, now that I'm in this state of bliss, I find myself doing more.  Effortlessly and from desire, rather than obligation.  I cooked a huge Thanksgiving meal from scratch with tiny children underfoot and loved every minute of it.  I reorganized my closet and it was fun (really, it was).  I'm having a great time writing this blog post.  I'm not trying harder; I'm praying more and God is doing more.  I'm less of me and more of Him and it's stinking awesome.

So let go and let God.  Be still and know that HE IS.  Psalm 37:4 says, "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart."  I'm here to testify that it is true!  Spend time with Him and you'll discover that it is so easy to delight in Him; He's delightful.  Burn your to-do list, shoot your TV.  Take sick leave if you have to and get with God.  You don't need fancy meditation, just sit with Him and breathe His name.  He's going to delight your heart and fulfill every desire.  My heart's desires were to walk in faith, to have a peaceful home, and to be happy.  Voila!  Done, done, done.  I also desire to raise my children to love and serve Him, to share His love with others who do not know Him or could know Him better, to pay off my debts, and to provide a healthy lifestyle (food, exercise, environment) for myself and my family.  I don't have to do anything to achieve these goals.  I'm just going to continue to delight in Him, to seek His will, and these things will be added unto me.  It's happening already and it's going to continue.  The desire in my heart to take the actions necessary on my part will grow and grow until it's harder not to do these things than it is to do them.  I don't want a bowl of cereal anymore (those who know me well will recognize this as a miracle); I want to bake a loaf of homemade bread and cook a strata.  I don't want to go shopping and accumulate more stuff (another miracle); I want to go for a walk in the park with the people I love best.  I'm serious.  It's happening and I'm loving it.  I'm loving Him, I'm loving you (really, I am; whoever you are out there), and I'm loving life.  Join me; let's get blissed together.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Time

Having children is terribly inconvenient sometimes.  There are so many things I would like to accomplish, so many gorgeous little DIY projects I see on Pinterest that I think I might actually be able to create.  They do not care that I had images of Martha Stewart dancing through my head as I planned this year's Thanksgiving meal.  No, they decided it was a great time to get the flu.  And to pass it on.  There is just no reasoning with them.

So now as  I sit trying to write a blog post, there is a charming little girl wallowing in my lap whining, "Mommy, I want more cookies."  There is a suspiciously quiet little boy somewhere in the house no doubt undoing some of my previous tidying if not worse.  In the time it took for me to type those sentences, Baby Girl left my lap and I caught her about to add her own embellishments to our ottoman with a pen she swiped from the desk.  Artistic endeavor thwarted, she is back begging for cookies.

It's times like these that I really need a break or at the very least a nap.  My flu is lingering longer than theirs did because I do not have the time or ability to rest.  The endless cups of echinacea tea and the soothing baths upon my husband's return from work are lovely respites but no exchange for the hours of undisturbed slumber that I crave.  Add on top of all of this that all I have done by way of Thanksgiving preparation is to move my turkey from the freezer to the fridge, you will see that I have something of a problem.

Or do I?  I remember once when Eddie was sick.  It was a similar situation, flu symptoms that he happily shared.  Sleepless nights, fatigue heightened by a sense of helpless worry.  As now, it was a few weeks before Christmas and my mind was on the holidays ahead.  His timing was inconvenient and, what was worse, I was beginning to feel the onset of illness myself.

Toward the end of the evening, I really needed a break.  Needed to get out of the house.  Eddie was lying on our living room floor on a blanket, surrounded by toys as always.  I was headed out to the store to get something that seemed essential at the time, something in the "bread, milk, toilet paper" kind of category.  As I neared the door, Eddie turned toward me and with his cutest Cabbage-Patch smile, patted the top of his "Where's Elmo?" peek a boo book.

Let me make something clear.  Eddie didn't just like his big, puffy cloth "Where's Elmo?" peek a boo book.  He loved it.  I had read that book and lifted those flaps more times than I can possibly count.  I had seen a variation on his wordless request time and time again.  And I needed a break.  So, I passed.  I told him Mommy had to go to the store but that Daddy would read it to him, which he began to do as I was leaving.

When I came home thirty minutes later, Eddie was asleep in his crib and I had a fever.  I slept on the couch that night so I wouldn't make Phillip sick or Eddie sicker.  When I got up to check on him the next morning, he was gray and hardly breathing.  Phillip and I rushed him to the ER.  In the car I had to hold him forward, out of his car seat, so that he could breathe.  As I gently urged him, "Breathe, baby" Phillip's foot got steadily heavier and heavier on the gas pedal.

We were rushed into the back immediately and they began to bag him, or manually help him breathe.  After a flurry of questions and answers, he was admitted, sedated and put on a respirator.  He then spent the next thirteen days in the PICU in a medically induced coma from which he was never expected to awaken.  (I wrote about this PICU stay in my post "The Sprinter" if you would like to find out more details.)

While Eddie was out and while his prognosis worsened, I kept seeing the same image in my head again and again.  That beautiful little smile, those sparkling little eyes, as he patted the top of his favorite book, asking me to read to him.  I cried about it; I agonized over it.  What would it have taken for me to delay my trip to the store by ten minutes?  To watch his eyes light up, the delight on his face as we "found" his Sesame Street friends one last time.  I prayed that God would give me a second chance to have that moment with my baby boy.  That the last smile I saw from him not be right before the moment that I had said that I didn't have time to spend with him.

Thank God, Eddie didn't die in PICU.  We had dozens if not hundreds of more occasions to read "Where's Elmo?" together.  I got to see that Cabbage Patch grin again and again.  I got to remember that no matter how tired I was, no matter how long the day had been, that I was lucky to have time with him.  That every single moment was precious, no matter what.

So, I don't have a problem.  I have blessings.  Two of them that are feeling better and therefore tearing the house apart.  That are whiny, unreasonable, demanding and wonderful.  They can't imagine that my time has any greater purpose than being spent with them and in some ways they are right.  Chances are they will outlive me, but there is no guarantee of that.  Even if they do, they won't always be in my lap, asking for a cookie.  Before I know it, it will be drivers licenses and prom dates, then colleges and careers, hopefully marriage and their own families.  The time I have with them now is precious and ticking away.  So it doesn't matter that it has taken me the better part of the hour to write this short post.  It has been time well spent.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Thursday Sabbath

Wow!  It has been a long time since my last blog post.  Apologies to those who look forward to them.  Time got away from me.

In fact, I haven't been managing my time very well lately.  I have felt caught up in a cyclone of activities.  It seems that every day there is something on the schedule to do:  school, birthday parties, church events.  I haven't taken the time to just sit, to just be, and for me this can be lethal.  Being busy is good in many ways; it is distracting to be sure.  But I find that when I'm busy-busy, I lose touch with God.  He hasn't gone anywhere; I just can't sense His presence or hear His voice because there is far too much noise in my heart and in my head.

When I start to feel separated, unable to sense God's will in any given circumstance, I start to panic.  This is extremely unhelpful.  It is similar to asthma.  When I have an asthma attack, the worst thing I can do is panic.  It makes breathing all the more difficult.  I know when I'm suddenly alarmingly short of breath (or out of it altogether) that I need to calm down, relax and try to breathe deeply.  It is the same thing with my "spiritual asthma" if you will.  When I am short on God and I panic, it makes getting into the quiet, peaceful place where He is always waiting for us all the more difficult.  You never see someone meditating and hyperventilating at the same time and there is a reason for that.  God meets us when we are still.

Don't get me wrong.  He can meet us in our panic.  He can do anything He wants.  But I have found that most often He wants us to get still and quiet to draw near to Him.  And I wasn't doing that very well.  Although I had already decreased my activities significantly, there was still more and more that "needed" to be done.  I was freaking out.  So as another busy weekend began, I felt ill-prepared and irritable.

Friday was another activity filled day.  We spent a wonderful Saturday with my stepdaughters at the zoo in Waco.  Toward the end of our visit, Baby Boy fell on the playground and hurt his mouth and teeth pretty badly.  So the hour and a half ride home was less than pleasant; he had a sore mouth and was sad to leave his sisters.  The Operation Christmas Child Thanksgiving potluck our Life Group has every year was scheduled for Sunday.  We had been so busy over the weekend that we had not prepared for it at all.  Nothing to cook for the potluck, nothing to put in the boxes.  We didn't even have ink in the printer to print out labels to accompany our boxes.  We were completely unprepared.

The prospect of getting all of it done that evening was overwhelming.  Both kids were tired; one of them was injured.  I told my husband I just needed a day off on Sunday.  I needed a Sabbath, a true day of rest.  His lack of enthusiasm was palpable.  We look forward to doing Operation Christmas Child all year long and we love the fellowship with our Life Group as well.  It seemed inconceivable not to do it.  But I was at the end of my rope.  We shelved it, deciding we had time in the morning to take care of everything if we decided to go.

I awoke Sunday morning feeling like the world's biggest wet blanket.  How could I have nixed our plans for the potluck?  True, Baby Boy's lip was swollen and his tooth was loose.  True, I was worn down to a frazzled little wire.  But I could rally.  It would be fun once we got there and I would be glad I pulled it all together.  Anyway, Operation Christmas Child benefits underprivileged children and charity work is always a good idea.  Right?

I have heard it said:  "Not every good idea is a God idea."  Baby Girl woke up with fever and, although I was sorry she was sick, I also breathed a sigh of relief.  Maybe I was in touch with God's will after all.  Maybe it was time for us to opt out, even from something fun that we were looking forward to, in order to reconnect with Him and with each other.  We took our Sunday as a true Sabbath, doing nothing but resting together as a  family.  Aside from the stress that accompanies a sick child, it was a pretty good day.

Yesterday was necessarily busy.  I had to take care of a traffic ticket and take Baby Boy to the dentist to assess the damage from his fall at the zoo.  But I could do it all calmly, because I was back in touch with the source of all peace, all serenity, all direction.  Last night Baby Boy ran a fever so we could not go to school today.  He awoke happy and healthy so I'm taking it as another Sabbath gift from God and despite the fact that there are lots of things we could do today, lots of busy little things that need to get done, I'm not going to do any of them.  I'm going to read my Bible and praise God for His goodness.  I'm going to snuggle my kids, build with blocks and color in a coloring book or two.  I'm going to take lots of deep breaths and I'm not going to panic.  Because God is good, all the time, and I'm going to be still and enjoy Him today.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Days Like This

It has been one of those days.  I woke up early enough to have my quiet time with God which usually makes for a better, brighter day.  No so today.  I really needed to drop the kids off at Mothers' Day Out, go home and crawl back under the covers.  Since I teach Mothers' Day Out, however, that was not to be.  My little pupils were great today; I was just really tired.  So at the end of the day, I felt like I needed a nap or at least some "me" time with a relaxing cup of tea.

Have I mentioned that my children are two and three years old?  I don't get a lot of "me" time.  And Baby Girl was in a mood when I picked her up today.  Not hostile or angry.  She was very pleasant about the fact that she was unwilling to do anything that I asked her to do.  By the time we got to the car she had earned a consequence.  Baby Boy got a pack of Dora fruit snacks, but she had none.  As I was explaining to her that her brother had made a good choice by listening and that Baby Girl had made a bad choice by not and therefore there would be no fruit snacks for her, she took my face firmly between her hands, looked me straight in the eye, and said earnestly, "Mommy, stop talking!"  Yes, it has been that kind of a day.

The last thing I wanted to do was go grocery shopping.  I did, however, want a hot, yummy meal tonight and as we are on a budget it seemed wise to cook it myself.  I did not want to go to our local Walmart (just a personal preference) but in the interest of time and budget, I decided to bite the bullet and go.  Both kids were feeling a little tired and cranky, which always makes a trip to the store extra special.  I shopped for an hour in a crowded and hectic store.  I managed to do all of this without yelling at either child.  I was praying a lot.

Finally, I was in the home stretch.  The check out line.  Both children were contained and behaving relatively well.  I managed not to get irritated at the person in front of me who really had every right to buy fifty eight  cans of Fancy Feast which had to be rung up individually.  I unloaded my items onto the belt, fished out my wallet and looked for my debit card.  And looked again.  And again...

After apologizing to the very nice check out lady, I pushed my cart, empty except for my wiggly two children, to the parking lot with tears in my eyes.  I know I'm not alone in this feeling.  Those days when, although nothing catastrophic happens, you just feel worn down to the nub.  It is tempting to start an inner monologue that sounds a little something like this:  "I just can't do this anymore.  It's too much.  I'm too tired.  I need a break."  Sound familiar?  There are others available too.  Angry ones.  Like it is someone else's fault, perhaps even my kids', that I left my card in the back pocket of yesterday's jeans.  The thoughts that make it clear somebody is going to pay for how hopeless we feel.

I choose to turn my thoughts to God instead.  Every time something similar to those thoughts above popped into my mind, I would gently tell it "no" and pray instead.  I loaded up the kids in the car, trying my best to explain why we left behind the bananas they were asking for.  I took a deep breath and thanked God that I have choices.  Lots of them.  And the ability to choose what is right.

Because I didn't have to be angry about what had just happened.  As tired as I was I didn't have to yell at my kids.  I didn't have to curse either on the inside or the out.  I could take a moment and give thanks.  I could realize what a privilege it was to be able to go to that annoying store, to load up all that food, and to have the means to pay for it if not the immediate ability.  I drove home reflecting on the two wonderful characters strapped into their car seats, slowly but surely getting over their banana disappointment.

The Bible says not to grumble or complain about anything.  How tall an order is that?  But we can do it or God wouldn't ask us to.  It also tells us to focus our thoughts on lovely things.  It was hard to find something lovely about my fruitless trip to Walmart, but I did it.  And what I found was within myself.  I focused on who I am in Christ.  The old me would have been horrible today.  I would have been nasty to my kids ever since picking them up.  The Walmart trip would have been the straw that broke the camel's back and I would have been unbearable to live with, not just on the way to the car, but all evening long.  I would have taken all of my fatigue and all of my frustration out on my family and then justified it by my mood.

I'm not my mood.  I'm better than my mood, because I have the light of Christ within me.  I came home already feeling brighter.  I did not feel up to another trip to the grocery store and the kids were already hungry.  So I raided the freezer and scored some chicken nuggets.  I stirred up some Tang and called it juice.  Perfect parenting?  Hardly.  But my kids are happy and that makes me smile.

My husband just called to ask if I would like for him to take me out to dinner this evening.  I would and I'm glad I wasn't cooking when he called.  I feel like God is smiling at me right now which really makes it all so worthwhile.  Sitting here, listening to two hyped up kids making a big mess and failing to share their toys, I don't feel tired or overwhelmed.  I feel happy, a warm, secure kind of happiness from the top of my head to the tips of my toes.  What can I say?  It has been one of those days.