I feel almost frantic as I sit down for a few moments and try to put words on a screen that capture where I am. Right here. Right now. These past few weeks have been every emotion one has…
I journaled a few months back (read here) about my friend who was sent home with only a few weeks left to live. Instead, she has survived months. She made it to her birthday. Then Thanksgiving. And Christmas. And the last milestone, this Wednesday when her oldest turned 18. (Happy Birthday James!) And yet, these months have taken a toll. The prayers for a miraculous full body healing seem to be not His plans. The days appear very numbered. And I pray. Fervently. Relentlessly. Continually. On bended knee with my eyes closed and while cooking dinner with my eyes wide open and tears that won’t stop. Prayers for her. For comfort. For strength. For just one more day. For her devoted and unconditionally loving husband. Who tenderly cares for her every need with love and adoration in his eyes every minute of the day. For her 5 precious beautiful children. For abundant grace and understanding for them. For extra moments with their beloved momma. For God’s glory to shine all around them. For His love to bubble up from the depths of their souls. And it’s exhausting.
Then there was the phone call from more loved ones. Their marriage is over. The hurts and wounds and broken relationships run so deep that they are finished. Eric and I are grieved. Heartbroken. A trip. Phone calls. Trying to put together the pieces of why. Why are they here at this broken place, now. And we encourage. Listen. Pray. And it’s exhausting.
And last week Eric had to go to Arizona for 5 days for continuing education. Right in the middle of life. Right here. Right now. And suddenly I am single Mom. And even though we text back and forth all day and squeak in a few phone calls, it’s just not the same as having him here. I miss him. The strength of his arms at the end of the day. When even though we are both exhausted from running 90 miles an hour, we can hold onto each other. His touch. His smell. I miss it. Long for it. And I have to carry on while he is gone. Instead of sharing and tag teaming as parents, i single handily try and balance it all. The basics like meals and chores and school and then the heart issues. Like bad attitudes and laziness and fighting. And its exhausting.
As I sit here and gather my thoughts, I can barely hear myself think. The banging and scraping noise coming from my kitchen is a constant reminder that life will be challenging in the days and weeks ahead. On Wednesday, I spent the day shopping with some girlfriends about an hour away. We stayed out later than planned, and soon after dinner I got a text from Eric.
“Need to tell u something”
He texts that it is better to tell me in person. My stomach knots.
I get back. The kitchen is flooded. Someone during the day knocked the pipe loose under the kitchen sink so the little U joint pipe was completely off. Then they ran the dishwasher. So every drop of water that day that should have ran right out of my house, out to the septic tank, instead ran out into the kitchen cabinet. And got under the tiles and cabinets. So much water and damage that the entire kitchen has to be gutted and dried out. Then rebuilt. So no stove. No sink. No dishwasher And as I type this my heart starts beating faster. I want to cry. Can I live without my kitchen? Sure. I’ve survived much worse. This hardly holds a match next to living in the bush of eastern Africa in a shack with no running water and no electricity. With an 11 month old and 2 year old. No car and no phone. No grocery store. And a husband constantly taking off on medical safaris. But do I want this? Right now?? NO! We had grand plans of one day, remodeling. But right now we have so many other projects going on,upstairs, downstairs, outside on the property, that I nearly have a heart attack at the thought of one more HUGE project. But really there is little choice. Choosing to ignore the water damage, in the dead of the winter, ensures there will be a much greater problem. It must be dwelt with. Right here. Right now. And I sigh. Blink back tears. Cooking for 9 people on my wood stove, or in our trailer, hand washing every dish, living out of a boxed up kitchen is all within my capabilities. Even entertaining. Every month, we have “Fiesta Night”. Friends come over and bring their favorite taco topping and a dessert. It’s a standing invitation. We don’t know who all will come each month, but there is always a crowd. This month will be humbling. For a women who loves everything perfect, maybe even obsesses over it way too much, I will open my home and it will be not so perfect, kitchen missing, messes I can’t clean up. And this is exhausting.
Julia is cutting 6 teeth. I can not remember any of our other children ever having so many teeth come in all at once. She has spent the last few nights moaning and crying every 15 minutes. And while every other person sleeps soundly, Julia and I rock. I sing to her. I whisper prayers in her little ears. We walk back and forth across the rooms. She thrashes and tells me “Owwwww”. And about the time the first rays of light come up over the mountain, she falls asleep. And everybody else wakes up. And I am exhausted.
Then the little things. The things that normally are nothing. But right here, right now, they seem bigger than life.
Like Maryann getting a horrible case of poison oak. Her face is swollen and she is miserable. This is the girl who, when she gets a hang nail, she is laid up for a week. She lays in her bed, covered with cold wet towels. She says this feels the best. And Eric is calling her Mei-Hua (chinese for beautiful flower) again. But she is happy. And for that, I am so very thankful.
Laundry…never ending piles that seem to grow at night in the dark.
Putting together costumes for a 1920’s Masquerade Ball. I am super excited. We are even getting picked up in a Limo. A first for me! But the costumes have been challenging. Living in a small town and no time for sewing, I stressed. Until I remembered the internet. Now I am just hoping it all shows up before the big day.
Trying to not get frustrated as we work on the remodel upstairs. No closet in our room right now. Clothes in plies. Everything in boxes. Piles everywhere. It’s that “I want my house to look perfect and clean” in me that makes me hyper-ventaliate when I walk up the stairs. I’m learning patience once again. And humility. No matter how much I clean and organize, I can’t make it look good.
But if you ask me if I’m ok, I’ll say yes. Because I am. And I mean it. Times in my life have been much worse. Right now, I kinda feel like I am in survival mode. It grows me and stretches me and prepares me for something farther down the road. I mean really, after living in the African Bush, this is like a piece of cake. (That’s what I keep telling myself!) But I can do this, right here, right now, because I am not a quitter. And as much as I want to sometimes, it would be the wrong choice. And what would it show my children? And how would I be loving my husband? And I happen to have Jesus on my side…and that is where I find my strength in these days…