Monday, February 17, 2014

Armpits and Grace

Muffled words and heavy weight press into the folds of my side of the bed, as my oldest daughter rushes into our bedroom. 

The clock says it's too early-- 6-something.   

Through squinted eyelids and a half yawn, I hear her deafening screech, Mom the boys are attacking each other!

Before I can pull my eyelids apart, I hear feet pounding hardwood floors-- one boy plunges onto my feet, grasping his throat -- sucking in for air.  Tears spilling.

I barely hear his moan that he was attacked.

And I can't find my words or my own rhythmic breathing

Or my coffee

Seriously?  This is how the day begins before my eyes open and my feet hit the floor?

Inside my brain is a mama frantically ringing the bell for Anna or Mr. Hughes to take these misfits to their Nanny while I retire to await breakfast in bed (Downton Abbey peeps will get this).

I throw my feet to the floor, leaving behind the boy who's gasping for air.  I stumble and feel my way down the hallway to the schoolroom to find my firstborn doubled over, holding his belly. 

Wolverine-like claw marks down his chest and neck. 
Blood has been drawnSeriously?
When did I raise MMA fighters? 

What is a mama to do in the midst of such daily chaos?  Because I can't get it right.  
These are the same days when temps outside are ridiculously low and I have an amazing idea to burn energy-- so I challenge my children to beat me in push-up reps-- all 5 of us in plank position in the den floor. 

My great idea ends with one girl running from the room screaming I can't do it, I can't do it--  hovering by the kitchen window in the fetal position-- loud wails of defeat.

These are the days when one of the girls screams to the other You are NOT in charge of me!!!  Get out!  A bedroom door slams, rattling the foundation.  Tears and high-pitched wails.

These same days-- wedged between linking verbs and adverbs and congruent triangles, are the sounds of armpit flatulence, loud snorting, and hands rhythmically drumming the table. 

(By the way, on the armpit flatulence-- is this just hardwired into the heart of boys throughout the ages?) 

For. the. love.  
Their armpits are now starting to stink at my boys' ages.  

I feel like I'm in 2nd grade again sitting across from Joe Moore as he pulls my pigtails and makes disgusting noises.  What in the world is this archaic practice?
These are also the days when we read from Judges-- the account of Samson getting his eyes gouged out.  

And I wonder if gouging my ears out is an option.  Because I'm ready and willing. 

This mama has had her fill of noise and it's not even lunchtime.

I often find myself in despair at the Groundhog Day-like familiarity to my days and the sin patterns repeated over and over within our family.  (Romans 7)


Some days are just plain daunting.  I remember a sermon once that said we are living on enemy territory.  Every. single. day.  Until we reach heaven.  Every day is a battle.
In my flesh, with misfit boys drawing blood, girls having meltdowns, and a mama barely breathing, I claw to control behavior and disengage from the hearts of my children.  I can quickly wound little hearts with words that drip venom and power.

Yet the Spirit whispers...

 You are clean because of His blood poured out for you (Matthew 26:28)

My flesh wants peace and quiet.  I want to shame and punish misfit children.

And yet...

I hear the Spirit whisper...YOU are the misfit, saved by grace 

Hosea put it well: I'll call nobodies and make them somebodies; 
I'll call the unloved and make them beloved. (Romans 9:25~The Message)

This past December, God took my baby pinky toe.

I wish I could say I was doing some cool mama ninja moves when the break occurred.

But I was attacked by my coffee table-- toe bent sideways-- distended and blueish.

It felt more like a severing off.

Because this was a season where I was literally running to the Father- hitting trails and sprinting with praise music on my iPod-- hands raised high. 

I'm sure I looked ridiculous, but it was my therapy from long days adjusting with the sudden addition of a 4th child to our family.  A wonderful blessing, yet equally hard.

I wanted to run.  Fast.  Yet, I had to be still and rest. 

Every day, buddy taping my fractured baby toe next to the stronger one.  So it could heal. 

You struck down to bind me up

You say You do it all in love

I think of the irony here as I daily wrapped my toe.  Because, as believers, we are buddy taped to Christ-- the weak bound to the strong.  (2 Cor 12:9)

My daily legalism and power struggles echo hollow
in the light of the strength of my Rescuer.

If I am trying to get my act together and get straight A's in motherhood, and raise perfect children, I am missing the heart of the gospel.

He has already done it for me--lived the perfect life and credited it to me.  (Romans 10:4)

Divine power granted to me. (2 Peter 1:3).

Unmerited favor. (Rom 3:22-24)

Each and every breath an undeserved grace.

And I weep tears salty hot - for there's nothing I deserve 

I don't deserve your love

But you give it to me anyway

Can't get enough

You're everything I need

And when I walk away

You take off running and come right after me

It's what you do

And I don't deserve you [2]

And my Savior longs for me to come walk with Him-- to seek His face.  

Although I will likely never EVER be thankful for armpit flatulence and stink, He draws me to see some of my daily graces.   By His grace, I can't get it right.  By His grace, I have days that start (and often end) in bad ways show me I desperately need the One and Only.  A perfect God, who came to earth to bear the weight for me.

So, here are some of my daily graces in the midst of MMA fighters and wailing children and a crazy mama...

Girls making play dough cut-out cookies on metal pans

The beauty of my oldest son's music

Little Bitty eating a bag of chips (her favorite treat)

A little girl who talked incessantly all week about her upcoming Father-Daughter dance.  Trying on dress after dress in the dressing room-- brilliant sparkly blues, velvet black, shimmery reds.  She twirled round and round, smiling at her reflection in the surround mirrors-- a Princess.

Little Bitty softly lying on my chest, twirling my hair in her little fingers, laughing as she whispers You are my Mommy.  Sweet girl also running throughout the house discovering new photos of our family photo shoot that include her.

Girls giggling in matching bathing suits

Little Bitty squealing over this one

Boys loving each other

Waking up to songs by Little Bitty

Waking up to a daughter who brought home something for me from the Father-Daughter dance

Joy in the moment

Girls dancing

Hot tea and a game with my oldest

A special and much-needed grace gift from my oldest

My man - the best

Star Wars homeschooling

Sun-bathing homeschooling in the dead of winter

Goofy fun

Plumb - I Don't Deserve You

[1] Shane & Shane, Though You Slay Me lyrics
[2] Plumb, I Don't Deserve You

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