Friday, March 23, 2012

Poured Out, Worn Out and Filled Again


Day begins with oldest daughter's alarm blaring.  She is not at home this morning because she slept over at a friend's house last night.  It is 7:24 a.m.  Time for any respectable person to be out of bed and well on the way to beginning the day.  But I am not.  I am clawing for any extra minutes of sleep before day begins.   Praying that the alarm in the room that also holds two little girls, does not wake them.  Knowing that it would be a miracle for it not to.  Jump out of bed and run to turn it off, realizing that there is no escaping the day at hand, yet ever-hopeful.  Just 15 more minutes, Lord.  Mercifully, they do not wake up.  That, in itself, is a minor miracle (if there is such a thing).

Later, at the breakfast table, young daughter starts the day with complaining.  Ever complaining.  Never enough.  Not the right kind of cereal, not the right shoes, not the right shirt, not the right snack. 
Breathe.   And pray.  And remember to smile. Will she get to me today?  Not today . . . she will not.

A gentle answer turns away wrath

Drop her off at school and head home to seven kids waiting.  School calls.  Math and grammar and Bible and writing.  Laundry calls.  Load upon load upon load.  Younger daugher wet her bed last night.  Again.  More sheets and blankets to wash.  I walk into my laundry room and I swear some days I hear laughing.  Mocking from the machines standing at attention.  "Did you really think you'd get caught up?" 

My flesh wants to be mean to her.  My flesh is TIRED of washing sheets, yet doesn't want to give in to Pull-Ups.  Her eyes dance way too happy with the mention of wearing baby pants.  Not going down that road with a little girl who is almost four.  Not going backwards.  So I paste on a smile and load the sheets into the machine.

A gentle answer turns away wrath

Later in the day and it's time to pick up young daughter from school.  Will she be happy?  She hops in the car, all smiles and happy to see me and "Mama, today was a good day!"  Thank you, Lord, for this.  Home again and within minutes she is not happy.  All full again of never enough.  Sitting on chair, scowl on face, and yet showing incredible restraint.  A few short weeks ago she would have been writhing on the floor, crying and making life miserable for any person within earshot.  Thank you, Lord, for this.

Off the chair, happy again, out the door to play.  Ah, sweet silence in the midst of this beautiful day.  Five minutes pass, happy face fades to black.  My flesh?  It would love nothing more than to lash out.  I have had more than enough.  More than enough scowling.  More than enough complaining.  More than enough it's never enough.  Oh, the thoughts that roll like thunder through my mind. 

And I confess, my answer is not gentle. 

New son, ever quiet and like pulling teeth to get him to talk. some days.  Today though, he has decided to use that silence to rebel.  Gets in a fight with younger son and refuses to talk to me.  Refuses.  I wonder for a brief second if the child has gone mute.  Hmmmm . . . Dad is out of town for the week and I will admit I have taken a back seat to disciplining this son.  Dad has been the bad guy here.  Today though, there is no dad to deal with him so it's all me.  One more chance, one more request and still silence.  Later in the evening, he plays a game of Sorry with the younger boys.  He is getting beat fair and square and is a sore loser so he takes his arm and swipes it hard across the game board.  Pieces fly and game is over and he retreats in silence to his room.  Younger boys crying and confused by this ten year old who acts more like seven. 

When I return from soccer practice, the stories fly.  I missed the game incident, but there are plenty of eye-witnesses to fill me in on the details.  Said son is nowhere to be found.  I call for him and he ambles out into the kitchen.  A look of innocence and that blank stare I am growing tired of.  He knows he is in trouble, but still he retreats behind those eyes.  He is here and ever-present and yet he is not.  He has learned to feign an inability to speak English when it will be to his benefit.  I see in his eyes a flash of rebellion and I know what he is doing and I know what he has been doing all this time.  And I am annoyed beyond words and my flesh wants to shake him and yell, "Talk to me and use English or suffer the consequences!"

A gentle answer turns away wrath

And baby is sick.  Is she a baby?  She still is to me.  Holding fast to these last baby days.  Cheeks all chubby, golden ringlets and all full of "Mama, hold me".  And yes, you'd better believe the answer is "Yes".  I will hold her for as long as I can.

And I am worn out.  I am.  It is the wrestling of flesh.  The dying to self in all of  us.  I am keenly aware that every single person in this house is on the floor, sleeves rolled up, pants ripped and rolled up and wrestling.  Oh, the dying-to-my-way-right-this-minute, hurts.  Physically hurts.  I am reminded of Eustace in Voyage of the Dawn Treader when he has been turned into a dragon.  And I can feel the skin and the scales being peeled off of him by Aslan.  And I know, we all know, that we are in the midst of being peeled away at and it hurts.  And oh, how we all want to lash out and run away and escape the pain.  But we cannot and deep down, with each day that passes, we know that we must not.  We are all beginning to see that under those scales there is new skin.  And the getting to it hurts, but it is more beautiful than the old and the pain to get there is so totally worth it.

And I crawl into bed tonight.  Eighteen hours later and yes, I am tired.  But I am not defeated.  And I am not without hope.  Because even with all of the day's challenges, I can see beauty rising up in this house.  And it is real.  And it is not perfect.  But the One who is sustains us is and He is writing a beautiful story inside these walls.  He most certainly is.

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his GLORY, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.  And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace."   - John 1:14, 16


  1. o, sweet friend. praying for you, and know that doesn't bring a lot of physical relief, but know that God continues to hold you. praying very specifically for the needs in your home, for ALL the kids. and trusting God is doing a great work in and among your family for His glory.
    love you.

  2. Jennie - thank you for sharing. Beautifully written and yet painfully raw. Praying for you and your entire family. These early days are rough, really rough, - I know - but the new skin beneath IS truly new skin even though the getting there is painful. love - Karen Wistrom

  3. I so wish I could be there to help you! Keep fighting the good fight!

  4. Praying for strength and peace (phil 4:6)

  5. This brought me to tears. THANK YOU for writing this. Thank you for speaking the truth. Thank you so much for showing us the joy and the pain.