The title of this post should really be "Learning thankfulness, selflessness, graciousness, forgiveness...etc" but I don't have the space for that.
This week Dustin is at a conference (Together 4 the Gospel) in Louisville, so we are up here with my mom and dad. I'm staying here in their small two bedroom apartment with a 2year old and 7month old, while all them attend the conference. Yesterday I wasn't even able to be in the apt most of the day as their carpet needed to be replaced. So at 10 in the morning we loaded up in the double stroller off to find an adventure to occupy us until nap time.
It was a terribley exhausting day. Usually I get to call Dustin freely during the day for any "issues" that come up with the kids, or if I get bored, or lonely... or just want to hear his voice :) But not yesterday. I had to wake Catie up from her morning nap and leave, so she was less than pleased with that event. By noon both of them were falling apart. We met up with my sister-in-law, Lauren, for lunch at 12:30. Happy to see her, but never happy to go out anywhere to eat with both of the kids and no Dustin. Everytime we eat out with the kids (even with him there) I feel this pit of dread well up in my stomach. Anyone with toddlers knows what I'm talking about for sure. I felt flustered and distracted and I'm sure the tone in my voice was anything but loving the tenth time I told Gabbi to "turn around and eat your chicken".
I was ready for naptime. But Gabbi wasn't. When we got home and I laid them down, there was definitely protesting. Gabbi goes through spells where she fights naptime. Not so much with words or crying or tantrums anything like that. But she plays to keep herself awake. She gets disciplined for playing or talking loudly or fussing. She knows it's time to sleep. So I was going in there repeatedly for over an hour to adminster discipline. I was worn down to the core and ready to just see my husband. After Gabbi had finally fallen asleep and I was able to doze off for maybe 20 minutes. Dustin had a break from 5-7:30 and we were supposed to meet him for dinner. Well, he called me at 4:30, saying he wasn't sure if there would really be time for me to drive downtown and meet up with them, like we had planned earlier. Longing for adult conversation, and help from my husband for ANY length of time more so, those were the LAST words I wanted to hear. I began crying and was SO frustrated- not with him or anyone in particular, just frustrated. He called back and said if I was able to hurry and get them ready and out the door by 5 then we could make it work. I was packing up diaper bags and rushing around when Gabbi woke up.... followed by more discipline issues that I'm not going to go into right now. There was no way we would be able to make it out the door by 5, and I was even more frustrated. I explained to Gabbi that her disobedience has consequences that affect more than just herself, that we would not be able to go see daddy because her disobedience had delayed us. Well, I confess I was not instructing her in love. I was so exhausted and so upset.
Right before 5 Dustin called me again and said for me to still try and make it. So in a rush I got the girls out the door. On the way to the car Gabbi told me, "Mommy, you said we could not go see Daddy." I was quiet for a minute, thinking (how do I respond to this??), then I responded: "well honey, the Lord is so gracious to us. He gives us good things even when we don't deserve them. Even though we disobey, He still lavishes us with gifts. You were disobedient, but we still get to go see Daddy." Then another thought: "Just like I was disobedient, but we still get to go see Daddy."
This morning was better, my mom stuck around from the conference. But this afternoon, here I sit watching my sweet girl play with sidewalk chalk while the other one is sleeping. Then, a text message from my hubby: "I love you. Thank you for serving so I can come."
Oh how convicted I am that not for a moment had that thought entered my mind. Serving... yet without a servant's heart. All day yesterday I was just in this pity party of how tired I was, how hard this job is, how much I needed some help. I am serving.
I do love this job. I wouldn't trade being a wife & mommy to my precious girls for anything in this world. Even through the hard times when I just want to shove my head under my pillow, cry, and run away from how HARD it truly is... It's sanctification. It's glorious. He never said it would be easy, He has only said I won't do it alone. I'm so thankful He will not allow me to stay in a pity party for any length of time. He is so very good to me.
In His perfect timing I stumbled across this today and it brought tears to my eyes (not many things do):
Let Me Hold You Longer
Long ago you came to me,
a miracle of firsts,
First smiles and teeth and baby steps
a sunbeam on the burst.
But one day you will move away
and leave to me your past
And I will be left thinking of
a lifetime of your lasts…
The last time that I held a bottle
to your baby lips
The last time that I lifted you
and held you on my hip.
The last night when you woke up crying,
needing to be walked,
When last you crawled up with your blanket
wanting to be rocked.
The last time when you ran to me,
still small enough to hold.
The last time that you said you’d marry
me when you grew old.
Precious, simple moments and
bright flashes from your past-
Would I have held on longer if
I’d known they were your last?
Our last adventure to the park,
your final midday nap,
The last time when you wore your favorite
faded baseball cap.
Your last few hours of kindergarten,
those last few days of first grade,
Your last at bat in Little League,
last colored picture made.
I never said good-bye to all
your yesterdays long passed.
So what about tomorrow-
will I recognize your lasts?
The last time that you catch a frog
in that old backyard pond.
The last time that you run barefoot
across our fresh-cut lawn.
Silly, scattered images
will represent your past.
I keep on taking pictures,
never quite sure of your lasts…
The last time that I comb your hair
or stop a pillow fight.
The last time that I pray with you
and tuck you in at night.
The last time when we cuddle
with a book, just me and you
The last time you jump in our bed
and sleep between us two.
The last piano lesson,
last vacation to the lake.
Your last few weeks of middle school,
last soccer goal you make.
I look ahead and dream of days
that haven’t come to pass.
But as I do, I sometimes miss
today’s sweet, precious lasts…
The last time that I help you with
a math or spelling test.
The last time when I shout that yes,
your room is still a mess.
The last time that you need me for
a ride from here to there.
The last time that you spend the night
with your old tattered bear.
My life keeps moving faster,
stealing precious days that pass,
I want to hold on longer-
want to recognize your lasts…
The last time that you need my help
with details of a dance.
The last time that you ask me for
advice about romance.
The last time that you talk to me
about your hopes and dreams.
The last time that you wear a jersey
for your high school team.
I’ve watched you grow and barely noticed
seasons as they pass.
If I could freeze the hands of time,
I’d hold on to your lasts.
For come some bright fall morning,
you’ll be going far away.
College life will beckon
in a brilliant sort of way.
One last hug, one last good-bye,
one quick and hurried kiss.
One last time to understand
just how much you’ll be missed.
I’ll watch you leave and think how fast
our time together passed.
Let me hold on longer,God,
to every precious last.
It's crazy because just these passed couple weeks I find myself just watching Gabbi. As she eats, or plays, or is talking to me. And I think of her as a baby... how the days when she would be walking and talking seemed so far off, almost unreachable. Now here she is- a running, jumping, dancing, tutu-wearing, princess-playing, song-singing 2 1/2 year but so much older-acting girl. It makes me realize how quickly her life is going to go by, and how soon she'll be gone. Catie too. This poem brought even more conviction with the text from my husband.
So the Lord is teaching me thankfulness... and so much more. For these days that seem so hard but in hind sight, they are just part of the journey. And I love every step of the journey.
So I am going to get off here and play with my daughter as she serves me invisible coffee from a plastic cup smaller than my fist, and a plastic orange in a yellow bowl... my favorite of all snacks.
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