Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The test

I've been thinking a lot today about living in God's grace, and having hope in the hard times of motherhood. Those are two of the points I'm sharing in a MOPS talk tomorrow, and I spent significant time today rehearsing that talk. Good thing - I needed to put those ideas into practice tonight!

My husband is out of town for a couple of days. Need I say more???

After repeating to myself all afternoon that I want to be refined like silver, and that I want the impurities within me to be "burned away," I should've known there would be testing tonight! It started after school with arguments about friends coming over, getting homework done, and having TV time. Hamburger Helper was on the menu for dinner (I always go easy on myself when Brian's gone!) and, although this is usually a big hit with the kids, tonight it just made the arguing drag on.

Joshua wanted pancakes! "Hamburger Helper is gross!" (Since when???) It didn't matter how much I reminded him he liked it last time. Tonight it simply wouldn't do. We got into other minor battles until Joshua thought the entire world was against him and began mumbling that, "No one even gives him what he likes to eat."

Throughout the entire process, I was praying - Asking God to help me love my kids, asking Him to help me keep self-controlled, asking Him to fill me with compassion. Somewhere in the midst of it all, God must have been working because He got me to have compassion on Joshua. Really, it had to be God, because it was so not me!

I went over to the freezer and grabbed two pancakes and popped them in the toaster. When I brought them out to the table and sat them in front of Joshua, his eyes lit up and he let out a little gasp. (What a simple thing to do to make him feel special!) I thought, "Yes! I finally did something right!"

...Until Matthew (who, moments before, had been cheering for Hamburger Helper) started to cry. Then I thought, "Ugh! I can't do anything right!" Elizabeth looked at me with compassion and said what I was thinking, "Is this why you didn't want to make something different for Joshua?" But Joshua said I just needed to give Matthew time and he'd get over it. I knew what I really needed to do was pray, and remember God is good - all the time - and ask Him to lead me through this fire.

Matthew did get over it. He even had seconds of Hamburger Helper.

After dinner the kids cleared the table, and washed and dried the dishes - all without much prodding on my part. For a moment, I wondered who these strangers were in my kitchen, and what they did with my children! But as I looked at them closely, I determined they really were my kids. Weird!

Then, Joshua and Matthew wanted to play "Tickle Wrestle." The object of this game is for them to run around me on the floor, where I am supposed to sit in one spot - keeping one "cheek" on the floor at all times - trying to catch them as they run past and tickle them until they beg for mercy. I had other things to do, but agreed to play - with joy, even - and this time wondered who the stranger was who'd invaded my body. Was that really me being unselfish? Weird!!

When it was time for bed, of course there were some problems - water all over the bathroom counter and floor, and a very un-focused child - but overall it was a peaceful bedtime. We gathered in my room to read the Bible and pray, and Joshua even begged to do some of the reading. Weird!!! Elizabeth didn't object to him reading. Weirder, still!!!!

This is where it really gets strange. They're all in bed asleep!!! Just like I told them to do!!!

Wait a minute. Is it really me who's sleeping? Is this just a dream?? Where am I???

No, I'm awake. Sitting here at my computer, smiling.

When this evening began, I was afraid for what I was going to face. I was imagining getting angry with my kids when things weren't going well - and I was not wanting that image to become reality. But I chose to live in God's grace tonight - fully depending on Him to work in and through me. Yes, I believe I was tested tonight. For once, I feel like I passed!

Now, I think I'll go over that talk one more time before I go to bed.

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