The Thanksgiving Tree

The Thanksgiving Tree

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Joy in the Unfinished Laundry

It was nearly 4:00 in the afternoon and my husband would soon be coming home. It would be his first night in a week of arriving home early enough to have dinner with us. To spend time with us before the kids all went to bed. To spend time with me before we both collapsed. The day before, I had such dreams of this evening. Such expectations.

However, I surveyed the remains of my day. My house was in such chaos. Separate piles of laundry in my den. Some clean and folded. Some clean and needing to be folded. Some stain-treated and needing to be washed. Some stained and needing to be treated. There were cheerios all over my den floor. I then remembered, this was my attempt to occupy my 11 month old while I tried to "do the laundry." Which clearly was a fail. My kitchen had dishes in the sink still from lunch. A dirty highchair tray was resting on our table filled with smashed peas and crumbs of Ritz crackers. There's a dirty bib on the floor. Finished homework sheets lined my counters.... and I was overwhelmed.

What have I done all day?

I was so exhausted. I knew I had been busy doing stuff all day. But what? What did I have to show for it? My husband would be coming home... and coming home to THIS.


There's that ugly word that begins to chew at my heart and my self-worth. The tears begin to load. They drop. The sprinkle becomes a shower and I bath in my own feelings of worthlessness and unimportance. I'm so horrible at this, God. I'm the worst. I waste Your days.

The silence of my heartache is interrupted by children laughter. My attention is turned toward our backyard and I gaze out the kitchen window. Will and Josh are sword fighting. One is trying to rescue Emma Faye from the clubhouse, yet everyone is laughing. And there came my answer.....

Write down everything you did today.

I got out a pencil and found the back of some junk mail envelope and began writing down what I did from the time my feet hit the floor this morning, until present.

1. Woke up at 4:45am. Thomas was crying. Lost his paci. Rocked him back to sleep.
2. 5:15am. Couldn't go back to sleep, so made some coffee and had a quiet time.
3. 6:20am. Josh woke up. As I sipped on coffee, he sipped on apple juice and we talked about robots and outer space.
4. 6:45am. Will wakes. I have no cereal or bagels for breakfast (because I forgot to go to the grocery store the day before) so I offer eggs. Because it's so early, and we have time, I teach him how to crack open the eggs. We cook breakfast together.
5. 7:20am. Thomas wakes, feed him breakfast
6. 7:30am. Wake Emma Faye. We get in the car and take Will to school.
7. 8:15am. Make breakfast for Emma Faye and take Josh to preschool.
8. 9:15am. Rock Thomas and place in crib for nap.
9. 9:30am. Emma Faye helps bring laundry downstairs to wash. I sort piles while she colors a picture for her Papa.
10. 10:30am. We go outside and mail her picture. We smell flowers. I tell her the names of flowers. She wants to pet a cat. I teach her how to bend down and hold out her hand. The cat comes over and I teach her how to pet the kitty gently.
11. 11:00am. We find sunflowers and sun "fuzzies" in the grass. I twirl Emma Faye around. She squeals and says, "Do it again!" I do.
12. 11:15am. I hear Thomas waking up. I change out a load of laundry and put a new one in.
13. 11:30am. I feed Thomas and Emma Faye lunch. We talk about how God made the world and it is SOOOOO big. We sing a song about it and it makes Thomas laugh. We keep singing. He keeps laughing. He makes us laugh.
14. 12:00noon. I bring dry clothes and try to fold them. Emma Faye wants to help. I give her a pile and she works very hard.
15. 12:20pm. We leave to pick up the boys from school.
16. 1:15pm. It's beautiful weather so we all go outside and have a snack. I talk with the boys about their day at school. I stain treat a dirty pile of laundry.
17. 1:45pm. I do homework with Will.
18. 2:00pm. I give Thomas a bottle and put him down for a nap.
19. 2:30pm. We are done with homework and Will and Josh want me to play Monopoly Junior.
20. 2:45pm. I get dinner prepared.
21. 3:00pm. We all sit down and play the board game.
22. 4:00pm. Will, Josh, and Emma Faye run outside to play in the backyard and I decide to hurry and get the laundry together while Thomas is still asleep. I suddenly hear him on the monitor.

I looked over this list and really felt a holy presence in my kitchen. I saw the treasures hidden in between the lines. More tears, but these were good. These were from a fully, accomplished heart; not one of failure. I heard His words. In your kingdom, you probably didn't accomplish much, but in Mine your day was very productive.

I am VERY quick to not write illustrations as these because I never want to give the impression that I did something better than someone else. I am ALWAYS one step from completely blowing it and often I do. No, I decided to journal this day because I think more mothers need to be reminded whom we serve. I know the laundry must get done. I know our houses should get cleaned. There is GREAT value and worship in these tasks. But so often, our greatest work can not be measured by nor seen with the naked eye. Some of our greatest accomplishments are weighed in our hearts. Only Jesus owns those scales.

I know I have had days where all of my "to do" lists have been completed. I can't remember any of them. But I can still see Will's grin when he cracked that egg for the first time and didn't get any shells in the bowl. I can still hear Emma Faye's laughter as I twirled her around. I still see her crazy hair blowing in the breeze. I remember the "robots conversation" with Josh and I remember smelling the remains of baby lotion on Thomas's neck as I rocked him back to sleep. And I remember reading about God's mercy in my quiet time that morning. How His mercies are new every morning.

It's 4:30 now. I've gathered myself and entered into the world of my little joys. They were sitting around our patio table. Josh asked," Mommy, God is so big and he holds everything, right?"

"That's right, Josh." I didn't even have time to let my heart absorb that precious thought before Josh quickly added...

"So, Jesus is holding us right now?"

Ah, what a drop of Your mercy on this day.... in my moment of failure. Lord, you came to my rescue and brought encouragement to a tired, unworthy, mom. You didn't have to do that. You don't have to do anything. You don't have to care. But you do, Lord. You care, Jesus.

"Yes, Josh. He is holding us RIGHT NOW."

And right then, I found great satisfaction and joy in my unfinished laundry and my messy house.

Monday, March 7, 2011

You can put away the mirror.

"Mommy look. Look again." Emma Faye whined to me. Her pout was VERY impressive this time. I have no idea how she can make this face. Really, quite impressive.

"Look again."

She was referring to this horrible bruise that was on her bottom. While twirling and whirling in utter delight throughout our downstairs one morning, she slipped and fell. Her back slammed against a rectangular column near our dinning room. Fortunately, she was okay. Unfortunately, her bottom clipped the corner of that column leaving a nasty bruise.

I let her see it one day in the mirror and ever since, she's been fixated on it; wanting to know when it will disappear.

"I just wish Jesus would heal my boo-boo," she sighed.

I looked at it again. Being that we have to look at this thing almost everyday (per her request), I'm well studied in the "twirling whirling bruise of February '10." I've seen that thing turn from a bright, raw red, to an ugly blood purple color, to blue, and then to blue and green. This morning it was green and yellow. It was fading.

"But Emma Faye, Jesus IS healing it. He's been healing it all along. It's changing color. You can't see it, but I can."

I paused. I looked into her inquisitive eyes and brushed a strand of hair from her cheek.

"Emma Faye, some boo-boos take longer to heal. It doesn't mean that Jesus has forgotten about it, or that He isn't healing it. It just means that this boo-boo will take longer. He's always healing, sweetheart."

She gave me a little smirk, followed by an "okay" and skipped out of the bedroom. I was left alone sitting on the floor with those few sentences I had just spoken. Where that bruise was located, there was no possible way for Emma Faye to be able to see it on her own. She had to either use the help of a mirror, or trust my description of it. But she knew it was there, because it was still sore. She still felt it.

How often, because we continue to feel the pain of our own wounds, do we think Jesus isn't bringing healing? How much of our deep-rooted pain are we able to completely see on our own? We must trust in the One who can see. Who, over time, mends the tear and fades the bruise. Who reconnects the bone and scabs the scrape. As believers in Christ, our lives are constantly being made new; our bodies, healed. He is ALWAYS healing. We can't see it. We still feel the pain. It's still there, but take heart, my friends. It's color is changing. He has promised! There is no pain too great for our Lord. There is no sickness, He cannot restore to health. There are no scars too great for Him to remove.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)

He took ALL of our scars, and placed them on his hands and feet when he went to the cross and gave up His life for our salvation. Our bodies are left without blemish in His sight.

My heart is full. God, you are so great and awesome. Awesome! Thank you, Lord. I trust you, Lord. You can put away the mirror, I trust you.