Friday, March 30, 2012

A Little Perspective

If you've been on my blog at all lately, you know that I've been crazy busy sewing costumes for my church's Easter play.  The costumes took over my life for the last six weeks.

Today is my first day emerging from Costume World.  I can't decide if I should clean my nasty house (ew), get started on the rest of my craft to-do list, do something relaxing, bake (ahhhh), or try to be a super fun Magoo mom.  Before I figure out what to do today, I need to dump some thoughts from my head.

When I took that last costume to church last night, I was feeling quite exhausted and fairly cranky.  Then I saw all the actors, the director, the people working on the set, and people babysitting the actors' children.  I suddenly thought that my job was nothing compared to how hard all these people are working.  In just a few minutes my perspective changed.

Side note:  My perspective has not changed about The Pink Lady's top.  I can't stop thinking about how it's too big and I don't want to stamp my name on it.  Someone needs to help me get the top back from her so I can fix it.  Or I need a perfectionism intervention.

In addition to working overtime on the costumes, I have also been struggling with a couple health issues for the last couple of months.  It's unbelievable how much a little pain can suck the fun out of everything else.  Just ask my husband; I've been grumpy.

I had another doctor's appointment this week and was given yet another medication to try.  It was Wednesday, and I was planning on finishing the last costume that evening.  I took the first pill at dinner time.  A little while later, I was so overcome with drowsiness that I could barely talk.  Jared sent me to lay down on the couch while he took the kids outside to play.  {What would I do without Jared?}

This gave me a rare opportunity to watch TV.  In the last couple of months, my television viewing has consisted of listening to Chopped and Cupcake Wars while I worked on the costumes.  

Wednesday evening I landed on TLC's 19 Kids and Counting.  In this episode, Michelle and JimBob had announced they were expecting their 20th child.  They had a big family meeting to list possible baby names on the night before Michelle's sonogram to find out the gender of the baby.

The next morning Michelle and JimBob excitedly and nervously went to the doctor for the sonogram.  It did not go as they expected.  The sonogram tech could not find the baby's heartbeat.  They estimated that the baby had passed away at around 16-17 weeks.  The shocked parents tried to understand the news that they were hearing.  Michelle closed her eyes and said through a very tight lump in her throat, "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord."

These heartbroken parents cried and prayed together.  Then they had to go home, gather all their children together (as all the kids asked over and over if they knew the gender of the baby), and tell their children the unthinkable news.  Three days later Michelle delivered the body of their tiny daughter, Jubilee Shalom.  This brave family allowed the camera crew to be present at their daughter's funeral and heart-wrenching burial.  

A lot of people would have looked at these circumstances and the timing of it all and used it as a reason to be angry with God.  But this family praised God in the midst of their grief.  What an example.

I've never buried my own child, but there was a time that I thought I was going to have to.  So many of you already know the story, so I won't tell it in full now, but my pregnancy with Griffin was full of difficulties.  The absolute lowest point in our marriage was the time Jared and I had to discuss how to pay for Griffin's funeral.  God had mercy on us and restored Griffin's health and life.  

I spend a little too much time caught up in the daily difficulties, and I forget to be grateful that I have children to wear me out.  I am fully aware of the pain that couples go through just trying to get pregnant.  I do not take for granted how easily I got pregnant and carried my babies to term.  But when I'm trying to get Griffin to cooperate at the dentist's office, I have a tendency to forget to be grateful for his life.

I have had stabbing pain and nausea every time I eat for almost two months.  But this health issue helped me to maintain my weight loss when my exercise took a backseat to costuming.  Instead of griping that God didn't take away my pain while I was working on a project for Him, I can be grateful that He helped me to continue to work toward other goals in the midst of all the craziness.  

The other morning, while Nolan was at school and Griffin and Nora were at a church children's program, I had the opportunity to run some errands by myself.  I decided to look for some capris for myself now that it's warming up (and last year's capris are too big!).  In the middle of a women's clothing store, I ran into an elderly couple who were friends with my precious grandparents for about 200 years (give or take).  Pat and Kenny are about to celebrate their 59th wedding anniversary.  Pat has had a debilitating disease for 18 years that has put her in a wheel chair and affected her movement and speech.  And Kenny took her out shopping for some new spring clothes.

I talked to these amazing folks right in the middle of the store for quite a while.  Kenny told me about two of their grandsons (now adults) who have made some bad choices and gotten in some trouble.  "As long as they're still breathing, there's still time," Kenny said.  We talked about how God has used Kenny over the years, not because he's perfect but because he is willing.  All it takes is a willing spirit.

I wasn't expecting an encounter with God in the middle of Fashion Bug, but I got it.  Overwhelmed with emotions of aching for my grandparents and feeling grateful for God speaking to me through his faithful servants, I cried in the middle of the store.  What a beautiful picture of love.  The love of this married couple living out "in sickness and in health."  The love of these grandparents for their grandsons.  The love of God deeply rooted in their hearts, nurtured for decades and still growing.  And the love that God has for these two precious children who faithfully serve Him (even if what He asked them to do was go to Fashion Bug on a random morning to minister to a fellow shopper).

My life is richly blessed.  God doesn't let me get too far off course before he shows me someone who has a heavier load than I do.  Someone has cancer.  Someone has exhausted every option and still can't get pregnant.  Someone is silently overwhelmed caring for a loved one.  Am I really complaining about my house being gross or not being able to use my time as I wish?  My chronic pain has genuinely been exhausting, but I'm still a fully functioning person.  

If you're depressed by your circumstances or frustrated with the way things have been going, I dare you to find someone who has it worse than you do.  It won't take long.

Last night I read this quote:  "The grass is always greener where you water it."  {Read more here and here.}  So true.

Here's another quote I love:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  {Romans 8:28}
Sometimes we see it all woven together and the praise and gratitude flow effortlessly from our hearts.  And sometimes we have to accept that we just won't understand as long as we're on this earth.  

Today I know that my two-year-old called her new nightlight "awesome" and that Griffin called Nolan "Buddy."  Every day I live John 1:16..."From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another."  I have the choice of recognizing those blessings or not.

I don't claim to have learned this lesson once and for all.  There will be new challenges that might get the best of me momentarily.  But if I can stick to what I read in my Bible and what God teaches me through fellow shoppers, I will be able to stay on the right track.
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  {Philippians 3:12-14}
 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  {2 Corinthians 4: 8-9, 16-18}


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