Jack is gone on a mission trip to Staten Island, NY helping with SBC Disaster Relief's work with Hurricane Sandy victims for 6 days. I hate when he goes away. I miss him. And it's Christmas time. And we have 4 young kids for goodness sake! And then God gave my perspective. A friend- a boy I used to babysit actually- is serving a 9 month deployment in Afghanistan. He's married. He has two young kids. His wife is home with them. Without him. For 9 months. And at Christmas time, too.
It's ok that I miss Jack. In fact, I'd be concerned if I didn't miss him. He's my best friend, my partner in life, my partner in parenting. I should miss him. I do miss him.
But God has called him to go. And called me to stay. And He gives us the strength to do both. And being together is a gift. And being apart for only 6 days is a gift. And for the next six days, whenever I feel lonely or tired or overwhelmed, I've committed to pray for Jamie and her kids. Perspective.
And then today happened. 20 beautiful children. 20 moms without their child. It's been horrific. It's almost unbearable. And it gives perspective. As I sat watching the news, I cried. And then I had an overwhelming urge to hug my kids, to hold my kids. And I started thinking about all of the times I lose my patience. About the careless words I say. About the times I feel stressed or angry or overwhelmed or frustrated. I thought about those families in Connecticut. I thought about what their morning might have been like today. Were they stressed? Did they utter careless words at their kids? Did they think "I can't wait until these kids are in school and it is quiet around here?" Not knowing what their day was to hold. There's no judgment here. I've had those same thoughts. I've said to my kids "You are driving me crazy! Go play and stop coming in here!" I've said things I don't mean in the heat of a moment or in a frazzled instant. And today was a slap in the face with perspective.
And the hard truth is, there's no excuse for my careless words. My harsh attitude. We like to make excuses- "It's only natural." "Everyone loses their patience once in a while." "Don't beat yourself up." "You're just tired." And on and on and on. But the truth, the harsh reality, is there is no excuse. When I lose my patience- that's sinful. When I fuss- that's sinful. When I complain- that's sinful. It's all wrong. I need to repent. I need God to change me- to make me more like Christ. And as He does that, I need to work out my salvation. I need to choose better. I need to choose gratitude. I need to chose love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control. I need to choose holiness.
Every day with my kids is a gift. EVERY day. The hard days. The good
days. The "they're driving me crazy days." Every. Single. Moment. Poopy
diapers. Vomit. Kids fighting. It's all grace. Undeserved
blessing. There's no reason that tonight I am going to bed with four
beautiful healthy children in my home. Nothing I've done to deserve
this. It's just grace.
On my mirror in my bedroom are 10 Grace Prayers for Joyful Parenting by Ann Voskamp.
Number 4: "Just for today, I will ask for His grace, that when stress mounts, I'll dismount it with gratitude. My stress coping mechanism will be verbal intervention with verbal thanks. It's impossible to simultaneously feel stress and gratitude at the same time and I choose to give thanks at all times."
Number 5: "Just for today, I will ask for his grace to speak words that are only strong words, words that make these children strong. Grace words. Grace is the only non-toxic air."
Sometimes a little change in perspective is all we need. Tonight I am praying for families hurting in Connecticut. Tonight I'm praying that God continue His work of sanctification in my life. Tonight I am praying for the strength to choose grace, gratitude, holiness. Tonight I am thanking God for four beautiful children and all of our messy, crazy, fun, hard, stressful, happy days together.