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Grace in the Moment

19 Mar

I found myself chasing after a toddler who was running through the house with a giant bottle of mouthwash sloshing in his hand, as he yelled, “Fish!  Fish!”  Having recently introduced him to Finding Nemo, he’s now highly interested in all things aquatic, and a big bottle of blue mouthwash is obviously the best place in the house to potentially find sea life.

I wish I could say I found his imagination endearing in that moment, but it was the final knot in a string of behaviors for which I had waning patience.  If my patience were a sheet of ice, it was cracked and spidery and threatening to break at any time.  The headache I’d nursed all day wasn’t helping matters.  As desperate as I’ve been for spring after a long winter cooped up inside, I’m miserable with the high pollen alerts we’ve had all week.  When mama doesn’t feel well, every little thing becomes magnified.

It’s in these moments that I find myself breathing deeply, praying for patience, and reminding myself again that he’s 2.  He’s 2.  He’s acting exactly the way God intended 2-year-olds to act.  (Although I’m pretty sure mine is way more dramatic than the average child of his age.)  He’s developmentally exactly where he should be.  This is a good thing.  I just often wish that his development didn’t involve tearing my house apart with curiosity.

I’m not one to place motherhood on a pedestal.  All of life is hard, no matter what your calling is.  Every trial and experience is meant to hone our holiness, draw us closer to God, help us understand the call to be Christ-like.  But I can honestly say that I’ve never understood the concept of dying to self more than I have these last two years of being a mom.  Never before have I been so aware of my own selfishness.  I see it when I’m awakened in the middle of the night by a child crying because something in his room or bed isn’t just right.   Or when he wails because he messed up the shirt he’s wearing, and there isn’t another one like it to change him into, and I don’t understand why it matters so much, so I feel frustrated that I can’t just put any old shirt on him without eliciting a tantrum.  Or when I want to sit and have a moment’s peace, but he wants something from me, whatever that may be, and it’s the Most Important Thing Ever in that moment.

Dying to self looks an awful lot like paying attention to what matters to other people, regardless of what I think.  And then acting, regardless of how I feel.

I’m selfish to the core.  I’d just never noticed it before because I’ve never had to take care of anyone who is helpless.  But here I am, caring for a small person for whom the entire world is brand new, very big, and sometimes scary.  One night, that thing that brings him comfort and security just might be having his kitty blanket covering him instead of his train blanket.  What brings him joy for the day may be wearing a shirt with an animal on it.  (Oh, how my boy loves animals!)  And what makes him feel most loved is having his mommy let him get messy with paints or playing trains or chase or just sitting with him while he watches Cars for the umpteenth time.

The best I can do is ask for grace and strive to show it.  And remind myself that if I don’t look at least a little bit like Jesus in my everyday life, then my child may never know Him.  Most of all, I need to remember that my son is a gift–the gift I never knew I wanted, but God knew I needed, so he saw fit to give him to me.  And I’m grateful, so very grateful, even in the moments that I don’t feel it.  Especially in the moments I don’t feel it, because those are the times that God is growing me, stretching me, teaching me, and turning me into the woman he wants me to be.

On a train ride--worst scenery ever, but totally worth it to see Alex's excitement over riding an actual train for the first time

On a train ride–worst scenery ever, but totally worth it to see Alex’s excitement over riding an actual train for the first time

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Answered Prayer

10 Mar

Tuesday evening, I started noticing that our wild Ninja Cat was acting… mellow.  Too mellow.  Doogie was yelling for attention as soon as we put the baby down for the night, as is his nightly habit.  Usually both cats pile on either me or Steven the moment we sit down.  But Tuesday night, only Doogie wanted attention from his people.  I watched as Ninja, who’d been sleeping all afternoon, just burrowed under a quilt and curled into a ball.

The next day, things were worse.  He didn’t eat all of his “treat food,” which is what we call the Wellness wet food he gets to have each morning.  He lives for his treat food, so this was worrisome.  He slept all day.  I was trying to figure out if he was just cold and tired, or if he really needed to see the vet.  Then he got up.  He was limping.  Something was very wrong.  I made a vet appointment for him for the next afternoon and prayed for him.

Things were no different on Thursday.  His 4pm vet appointment couldn’t come soon enough.  The vet couldn’t feel any abscesses that would cause a limp, nor did Ninja cry out on examination of his leg, which would indicate an injury.  He had a fever and slight anemia, but nothing really jumped out to give a definitive diagnosis.  The vet even went so far as to ask where I got him, and when I gave the name of the rescue in Texas, he asked if they’d tested him for Feline Leukemia.  *gulp*  I started to panic, thinking he was saying my cat had that.  He was quick to reassure me that he hadn’t tested for it; he just needed to rule that out.  Because I didn’t know for sure without Ninja’s adoption paperwork in front of me, he went ahead and tested for it.  Negative!  Whew!

He decided to treat Ninja for a bacterial infection.   Goodness knows, this cat has had his share of them in his almost 3 years of life.  He gave sweet Ninja a shot and sent him home with another set of antibiotics.

The next day, I saw no improvement.  I was starting to freak out, thinking my cat had cancer or some other awful thing.  I cried over Ninja and pleaded with God to heal him.  He’s young.  He’s supposed to grow up with Alex.  He’s the only cat who tolerates Alex and willingly hangs out with him!  I need this cat.

But then, Friday evening, he perked up.  Woke up from his sleep.  Ate some cat food.  And stretched up to Steven and meowed during dinner, asking for food (which we never share, but he always hopes).  This was normal.  As we settled in for a movie that evening, Ninja sat with us.  Still resting, but wanting to be with his people.

Saturday morning, I woke up to a cat pouncing on me.  Over and over.  It was Ninja.  He screamed and ran for his treat food, which is his normal morning routine.  (Because if he doesn’t yell, repeatedly, we might forget to feed him, you know.)  And from that point on, he was better.  The limp is nearly gone.  He can run again.  He hangs out with the family, baby included.  He still can’t jump the baby gates and now has to meow to be let into the kitchen for his food, but he’s a billion times better than he was before.  Thank you, Lord, the Great Physician, the God of the universe, who cares even for a little Texan cat living in Oklahoma.

Our church here has a time where you can light a candle to put at the front to represent answered prayer.  We lit a candle for our beautiful Ninja this morning.

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