Photo Credit: Me! And the Outer Banks. And the Atlantic Ocean. And the Sky….
Happy Monday to you, dear readers. I cannot believe that this is the 29th of April, the last Monday of what has been an extraordinary month. Where did the time go? I’m pretty sure that we started this month with snow or something crazy, and today, just today, the new green of spring has become prolific though not fully abundant. There are trees that are still waiting to do their thing. I am sitting here in awe anyway, because the long, long winter is gone, and the Spring is finally here. It would seem that she is bringing with her a lot of frantic energy. This month has been exceptionally trying. I hope that May, and indeed, Summer, will be kinder.
Last week, I wrote in a bit of a delirious state, still processing the many events that have happened here and preparing for another week without my husband to help with the boys. I wrote at the end of my post:
“I think that, after I’m done writing these blog posts and a few emails and doing a little bit of reading, I’m going to get on my knees and say a prayer. First, of thanks, because there is always so much to be thankful for. Then, for help, because there is just so much that needs to be done.”
And indeed I did. I wrote two more e-mails, checked over a blog post, went to my room, got on my knees and prayed. I said “Thank you” a million times first, because there was a lot to be thankful for. I was thankful for my health and my safety, for the terror finally being over, for the safe return of my husband, for the hopeful peeking of signs of Spring. There was much to be asked for: For help with the house, for The Husband’s successful trip and return, for help with my writing and for a way to help contribute more to the family budget. There are so many things we want, which I didn’t ask for, and many more things that we need, which I humbly asked for. But mostly, I simply said thank you. Finally, I asked the Lord for the opportunity for reflection, growth, and rest.
As I wrote at the beginning of Lent, I consider myself to be an East Coast Christian. The kind who thinks that faith should be private, traditional, and more than a shade intellectual. I also wrote that I wouldn’t write a lot about my faith on the blog because this isn’t a faith blog: I’m not a theologian, and though I consider myself to be a devout Christian (I believe in God, I know that he loves me, I know that Jesus died for my sins and I try to walk His path as best I can every day), I do not consider myself to be an evangelical Christian and I’m often that Christian who is judging other Christians for being a bit too Christiany… In other words, I’m not a preacher. But I’m writing about this today because 1) I think there are important things happening in my life that require a deeper conversation about how I view the world, 2) ya’ll don’t seem to respond when I talk about politics and 3) because there is no way that I could have made it through the past 3 weeks without someone walking alongside me the entire way.
During Lent, I read a passage of the Bible every day for 40 days. I found a website that had a “Reading plan” for Lent and then I read the passages in my King James study Bible, a gift that my Husband (who was then my boyfriend) bought me some time ago. Though the passages were often only a few lines long, I found myself reading the entire chapter that the passage was in for context and clarity. I often found myself questioning and fighting with the passages that I read (especially stuff in the Old Testament, which makes sense, frankly). I learned a lot about the book, about my personal faith, about the teachings (isn’t it interesting how your view of these things morphs as you grow?), and about what living and learning in this faith is all about. I think that my 40 days of reading affirmed some of my deepest held feelings about the religion while opening my eyes to new areas of beauty, intrigue and questions about it as well. I miss that time; and I plan to, starting May 1st, pick it up again.
I write all of this because I feel like this weekend is one of those weekends when God started talking back. The answer? “Much was asked, so much is required…”
Ursa Minor was up at 5:30 on Saturday and 6:30 on Sunday this weekend (wake up time is usually 7). Last night, he was up every hour on the hour screeching and we don’t know why (we gave him some ibuprofen at about 2, but he never slept more than 1 1/2 hours consistently). Ursa Major pushed boundaries all weekend, and despite my husband’s best efforts to give me a break , there was just a lot of toddler drama this weekend that required all of our energy. Sunday morning was especially difficult, as the boys both work up early and were impatient for breakfast. They then played loudly and aggressively during CBS Sunday Morning (a show that we stop to watch every week because we love it. And yes, we’re under 30. And yes, that’s weird. And no, we don’t care), which only made The Husband and me more frustrated. By the time the show was over, we get a phone call from my brother-in-law: My Sister-in-law was in labor, 2 weeks early. Could we babysit their toddler, Bright Eyes, for 2 days while they bring the new baby into the world? Yes, of course, we say. Great, they say, we’ll see you in an hour. So The Husband and I huddle up, we come up with a strategy, we shower and prep, and I head to the grocery store as fast as my car can get me there. $60 worth of food later, I come home to three toddlers who are ready to destroy my apartment. We wrangle them up and take them outside. The mission: Play till they fall out, give them a heavy dinner (lasagna), get their butts to bed and pray that they’ll sleep.
An hour and a half into Operation Wear-Them-Out, we get a phone call: False labor. We’ll see you in an hour.
Wow…So they come to get their son. We’re left with a fridge full of food (and grossly over budget for the week and month, now), and we’re got two kids who didn’t nap and a day that we need to now reset.
And before you go feeling bad for me, let me tell you about what went right this weekend:
- I baked bread on Friday for French Toast on Saturday, and it was delicious. Every day, I’m learning how to cook better (and I was already pretty good) and hone a passion that I love. I’m turning into a real home cook and now a home baker. And I love baking bread more than anything.
- My husband let me sleep in on a Saturday for the first time in 6 months. I slept until 8:30 and it was soooo goood.
- My husband then gave me an hour to myself on Saturday, so I sat in the sun on the pool deck here at my apartment complex. When the wind blew, it was cold, but for the brief moments when I forgot that, it was wonderful. I got through the entirety of my Martha Stewart Living, and in so doing, I got a few inspirations (one that I’m cooking tonight!).
- I wrote (half of) a short story on Saturday night, and it’s the start of something good. I posted about it on my writer’s blog and I got a few hits. I’m learning that I really love blogging, and I love writing, and that all of this practice (e.g., writing into the ether for a few hits here and there) is actually paying off. I’ve found a stronger voice, and a new thing to look forward to during my week. I feel like my motherhood is enlightened and amplified because I choose to sit here and give legitimacy to it through words and reflections that are shared.
- All four of us took a nap on Saturday. That meant 2 hours of warm/cuddly time with my husband, which we hadn’t given ourselves in weeks. Yes, we shared a bed, but we hadn’t been present for each other in a long time. Though we were sleeping (We were!), it was a warm and intimate moment, something that was special.
- I also fried chicken on Saturday that was as good as my mother’s. I rarely fry chicken because I don’t think I do it well. But I did on Saturday. It tasted just like mom’s.
- We got to spend time with our nephew, and we got to go to the park and have fun in the sunshine (we might have just been in the house all day if not for that kick in the pants).
- I taught my husband how to make lasagna (because he asked to be taught. and he did a great job).
- In my haste to get to the grocery store, I put my game face on in the elevator, but then ran into the building’s elderly couple in the garage. I stopped, smiled, and opened the door for them. I insisted that the elder gentleman come through the door while I held it. I complimented them on their snazzy dress (they were back from church. He was in a 3 piece suit. He’s 86 and a bit frail), told them that it was nice to see them, and twice told them to have a nice day. I was so proud of myself, because that moment didn’t cost me anything, but the smiles on both of their faces gave me something.
9 Blessings, and they aren’t small things. They may look small, as they are quite personally tailored to me, but their intimacy masks their enormity. And there are more, too: Funny things that the boys did, that belly laugh that only Ursa Minor can do, the satisfaction of a good cooked meal… There were so many moments this weekend when I was pushed, but for each of those moments, there were 2 more where I was warmed or reassured. I feel like there was a point this week where God said “yes, you have my attention.” And there were other moments this week where He said “much was asked, so much is required.” I can never ask and simply get and take. I must give. The point is to give. With patience and compassion, with love and generosity, which reflection and with a listening heart and mind. God made me think about my prayer this week. He made me think about my “Thank yous” and he made me think about my requests. There is a beautiful and difficult simplicity about God and the way that he moves my life and speaks to me through the activities that happen in my day. I’m so grateful that he also gave me the opportunity to see the big and the small things that he does for me (and I’m sure that there are countless things that I miss, as well).
I feel like, as a mother and as a person, we have to be grateful for the trials and the reprieves. We don’t learn anything without trials, and there can be no reflection and rest within the reprieves unless we’ve been challenged before they happen. I’m becoming more and more grateful for the trials. I recognize when they are upon me, I do my best to get through them with enduring patience and resolve, and then I try my best to learn and grow from them when they are over. April has been a long trial, and I hope that May will be the reprieve that I sorely need. In the mean time, I have asked for so much, and I hope I’m standing up, with satisfactory results, to all that is required of me.