Monthly Archives: October 2014

Ring Around the Bathtub

It was 10 pm before I sat down to refold the laundry.  Yes, refold.  The three year old had decided we didn’t do it right the first time.  Or I wasn’t quick enough to get it put away.  Silly me.  I guess I should have learned the first (hundred) times it happened.

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It’s been hard to roll out of bed recently.  Not just because horizontal and pregnant don’t mix.  The tedium of another day refereeing uncooked-spaghetti fencing matches while reciting multiplication facts just doesn’t have great allure.  The discipleship of snotty nosed natives seems slow and unclear.  I know I am called to this.  But it doesn’t change the feeling I’m spiraling out of control.  Sometimes.  Every few minutes.  Like when the baby proved he could fit four marble-sized angry birds in his mouth without choking to death.  While standing on a rickety chair.  While I was getting a french manicure applying Desitin to serious diaper rash on another kid.  While the schoolboys escaped from their books to have a dirty-spoon war.  On the trampoline.  In the rain.  When we were late for an appointment.

They say the days of motherhood are long but the years are short.  Currently, they feel endless, a constant cycle of dishes and meal planning, diapers and saying no.  Repeatedly.  I guess it is a cycle.  An orbit.  And, Darth Vader-style, I’m heading to the dark side.  The nights are getting longer and the year is getting shorter.  Winter is coming.

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Seasons aren’t bad.  The time for pumpkin-everything is passing.  Soon the spicy smell of pine will fill the crisp air.  Frost will outline every stubborn blade of grass.  The kids will come inside with red noses and jockey for the first cup of cocoa.  The transition of seasons is beautiful in New England.  But winter is a hard season, nonetheless.  And while I’m buried elbow deep in the muck of motherhood, I am aware of the hardships ahead.

I know nearby there’s a suddenly-single mom facing her first meager Christmas alone with the kids.

I know there’s a young grandmother with breast cancer planning her holidays around chemotherapy treatments.

I know some parents who expected to hold their newborn in the quiet hours of the winter nights but instead watched him born straight into heaven.

I know a husband writing letters from his jail cell to a family he lost to his own selfishness.

It will be a long, dark season.

I know that nights are simply part of days, no matter how late I stay up with the lamps on and pretend I can extend daytime indefinitely.  Light is good.  I was made to live in light.  But eventually I have to admit it’s dark.  There is a time for this.  If I never went to bed, I would never be prepared for a new day’s dawn.  Or prepared for the children jumping on the bed when the clock strikes first daylight.

The Bible doesn’t say anything about living it up in this life.  We are simply here to live it out.  Hour by hour, day by day.  I can’t actually spiral out of control if I’m plodding along a set course.  If I’m orbiting the sun, I can be confident that eventually the nights will get shorter.  Spring will come again.  We’ll be a little older, hopefully a little wiser.  Over the winter, this will be very tangible, since I expect to go through the hard pains of labor contractions and sleepless nights.  But when spring comes, a very real new soul will exist.  New life.  Born in the darkness.  Born in the cold.  Blossoming with first smiles just as the sun thaws the hard ground.

God has never promised me comfort.  In fact, it often seems like when I’m doing everything right, I’m most uncomfortable.  These hard, uncertain, breathless seasons – they are good.  Not easy.  But I don’t grow when I’m sitting on the couch with a bag of chips watching Pride and Prejudice.  Well, maybe I’ll grow sideways, or grow discontent because they had servants to help them into pretty dresses and I can’t even find comfy sweat pants in the pile of clothes I still haven’t put away.  But I won’t grow better.  Diamonds only grow under pressure, in darkness, over time.

It takes time to learn lessons that are timeless.

We are appointed to this (I Thessalonians 3:3).  So I mother on, refolding the laundry.  Eating cold leftovers.  Saying no.  Pretending to like bugs.  Plodding, slow, steady, hand in hand with a toddler, going around till it comes around.  Or I step on a lego in the dark.  Whichever comes first.

Sunset over Mount Olympus

Can’t Touch This

It was small.  Just a little piece of a cracker.  Pierced.  Broken.  He offered me a fragment; I held it gently as the music played around us.  The deacon shuffled along the line of chairs to share the familiar ritual with the rest of the congregation.  And then my husband leaned over, his deep husky whisper curious, “What will you do with that?”

The music continued.  But time stopped for me.  Good question.

I will admit it.  I’ve joined the ranks of anti-gluten-tites.  I eschew wheat, barley, millet, and rye products.  It’s such a trend.  A fad.  I fought it for a long time.  (Really now, if I followed fads, I wouldn’t have 6 children… or homeschool… or not watch t.v….  No one ever accuses me of being trendy!)  But I’ve also spent many hours questioning, reading, searching.  A five minute conversation annually with a doctor is not sufficient to answer every health question I have.  I’ve been to nursing school.  I’ve lived in the hallways of hospitals; I’ve had doctors humbly admit they don’t (and can’t) know everything.  There’s constantly room for learning in science.  They used to swear the world was flat, after all.

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I’m pretty healthy – I eat my spinach and get more exercise than I really want as a mom of half a dozen young boys – but somewhere along the line, my thyroid kind of gave up.  I can’t blame it.  It’s a hard knock life to be a hormone regulator in a female body.  Add to that pregnancies, lactation, stress, too many ramen noodles in college, all the genetic twists I’ve inherited in the generations since Adam and Eve, and big old carbon footprints stomped all over my hormones for the past three decades, and I’m impressed the rest of my body hasn’t rebelled too.

Anyway, I dutifully started popping a daily thyroid-homone replacement pill about eight years ago.  But that at best appeases some symptoms; it doesn’t fix the problem or even halt the damage.  So I started to do my own homework like a big girl.  I kept finding that gluten sensitivity runs hand in hand with exhausted thyroid (specifically the auto immune disease Hashimotos).  In fact, it probably caused it.  But once your body starts attacking itself, there doesn’t seem to be a way to turn it off.  At best, you can lessen the attack by not eating the foods that probably started the whole war in the first place.

I didn’t really ditch wheat because it’s not healthy or holy.  I think you can be healthy and eat it.  I find it in the Bible.  True, it was healthier before American commercialism got its hands on it and changed the content to be less nutritious and much higher in gluten (and therefore harder on your digestive system).  And the standard American diet includes way too much of it.  But I still bake bread.  I’m a bit granola that way anyway.  I just don’t eat it.  I think you can also be unhealthy to swear off gluten.  A lot of pre-packaged replacements are unwholesome, full of sugar and chemicals, and just rushing to meet the lucrative trend without conscientiously seeking to fill a nutritional void.

This isn’t a post to convince you that wheat is evil; you can find plenty of other blogs to deal with that.  But if my body is trying to kill itself, I’m not giving the enemy any more firepower than I knowingly have to.  I’ve seen the holes in my thyroid in black and white (in an ultrasound.)  Wheat only drills them deeper.

So there, in the middle of the pew, under soft lighting and gentle music, I smacked against a rock and a hard place.  I must care for this body, this temple, this dust and water giving place to my soul on earth.  The effects of even a teensy bit of gluten can linger for months in my system.  But could I turn away from the Hand that reached out to feed me?  Always, so earnestly, my Savior had urged, “Take, eat… Do this in remembrance of Me.”  After all, the literal breaking of the Bread of life had cost Jesus’ health too.  It cost His life.

I lifted the fragment of cracker between my fingers, feeling the weight of His decision to die balanced on my thumb.  My own degenerating flesh, holding the reminder of His perfect sacrifice  on behalf of my broken body.  My broken soul…

“Have you comprehended the breadth of the earth?”  God Himself asked Job as he lay aching in the dust. (Job 38:18.)  The verse popped into my head.  I smiled as the meaning tickled my brain.  I was beginning to comprehend.  But a little.  Bread is filling, life-sustaining, comforting.  Bread is made to be shared.  Bread is made to be broken.  But for me, the very thing that gives life will cost my own.  On earth.

“I have fervently desired to share this with you,” Jesus had said, His deep voice choked with emotion.  But I shall not taste of it again,” He continued as He grabbed the sides of a fresh loaf and tore them apart.  “Not until the kingdom of God comes.”  He passed the warm wafers to His friends and they chewed and swallowed, savoring the bites wonderingly.  They didn’t know He’d be dead before the next evening’s meal.  Or alive forever before the next week was over.  This simple mix of ground wheat and water  – this held the promise of pain and hope that no other food group will ever claim.  Jesus didn’t tear the tofu.

Silently, I passed the crumbling cracker to my husband.   He’d have to handle both eighths of a square inch of Saltine this time.  Because I will not taste of it again, not with this broken body… But I will remember.  This choice not to eat.  This bread was costly.  It was broken for me.  His sacrifice made my own soul whole.  He gave me the promise of a new body, unbreakable, unbroken.  Someday I will share the bread of heaven – with the Bread of life.  It will be worth the wait.

And it won’t go to my hips.  Or my thyroid.

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Cast your bread upon the waters, you will find it again after many days.  Ecclesiastes 11:1

Someday

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Teach a kid to write – and then wonder why you took the trouble…

Someday, the coffee table might be for holding coffee rather than hiding diaper boxes.

Someday, the toilet paper roll won’t be empty every single time.  And I won’t find it unrolled down the stairs.

Someday, forks will be considered mindless utensils, not deadly weapons.

Someday, I won’t find rocks and legos in the bottom of the washing machine.  Or underfoot in the middle of the night.

Someday, I won’t be wiping footprints – off the walls.

Someday, there won’t be crayons in the tupperware drawer.

Someday, I’ll have a phone conversation, beginning to end, without being interrupted by a side discussion on the life cycle of octopuses.

The last role
The last role

Someday, there will not be fingerprints in the sticks of butter.  Or teeth marks.

Someday, used tissues won’t be put back into the tissue box.

Someday, my houseplants won’t be home to plastic beetles.

Someday, every sock will be monogamous with its mate.  (In theory).

Someday, I won’t find plastic army men frozen in the ice cube tray.

Someday, I might have to pay workers in a currency other than Skittles.

Someday, my coat pocket won’t have someone else’s used gum wrapped up in it.  And my sleeves won’t wear someone else’s snot.

Someday, I won’t dig up little plastic treasure boxes when I go to the garden to pull some carrots.

Someday, transformers won’t live in my purse.

Someday, pet rocks won’t live on the piano.

Someday, the doorknob won’t be sticky.  And no one will lick the screen door.

Someday, every library book borrowed will have more than 20 pages.  And fewer than 20 pictures.

Someday, I won’t fish someone else’s toenail clipping out of my own eye. (Ouch!)

Someday, my descendants won’t all fit in one bedroom; they may not all fit under one roof!

Someday, I won’t feel like crying over spilled milk.  And cheerios.  All over my cell phone.

Someday, I might be lonely.

Someday, I might think it’s too quiet.

Someday, I might even feel bored.

Someday, the days will seem shorter and the years will stretch longer behind me.

But perhaps someday will eventually remind me that all my yesterdays were worth every minute.

Some days, though, I can’t wait.

At least it was washable
At least it was washable